Former Marine officer and Fox News contributor Oliver North was named president of the National Rifle Association (NRA) on Monday.
North, 74, will replace Pete Brownell, who departs the unpaid position at the gun-rights group to return to his family business.
Announcing the decision to name North as its president on the group’s website, NRA CEO and executive vice president Wayne LaPierre described North as “a legendary warrior for American freedom, a gifted communicator and skilled leader.”
“Oliver North is, hands down, the absolute best choice to lead our NRA Board, to fully engage with our members, and to unflinchingly stand and fight for the great freedoms he has defended his entire life,” LaPierre said in a statement on North’s selection.
As president, North is expected to play a significant role in overseeing the organization’s efforts to protect Second Amendment rights.
A group which has come under fire over a string of mass shootings, the NRA spent over $5 million in 2017 to lobby on behalf of gun owners.
A graduate of the United States Naval Academy and 22-year veteran of the Marine Corps, North served one tour of duty in Vietnam. A combat veteran, North was awarded the Silver Star, the Bronze Star, and two Purple Hearts for bravery while serving as a line officer.
In 1981, North, then a Major, joined the Reagan administration as a staffer on the National Security Council (NSC). Serving as deputy director for political–military affairs, North eventually became a central figure in the Iran-Contra scandal.
While serving on the NSC, North was instrumental in a secret transaction in which arms were sold to Iran and the profits illegally diverted to aid the U.S.-backed Contra rebels opposed to the pro-Marxist Sandinista government in Nicaragua.
For his role, North was charged with 16 felony counts and was convicted after trial. On appeal, the conviction was vacated, and later the charges against North were dropped.
Following his legal difficulties, North narrowly lost his bid for the U.S. Senate seat from Virginia to then-Senator Charles Robb in 1994 — the same year his concealed weapons permit was revoked by a state judge who found him “not of good character” after admitting he lied to Congress about the Iran-Contra scandal.
North went on to host a television series, War Stories with Oliver North, has authored several books, and has been a contributor with Fox News.
North is married to Betsy North and is the father of four children. He lives in Virginia.
[Fox News] [Roll Call] [Washington Post] [Photo courtesy Getty Images via New York Post]