Oliver North, the controversial retired Marine and former Reagan White House aide implicated in the Iran-Contra scandal, is on track to be the next president of the National Rifle Association (NRA).
The organization on Monday announced that North will replace Pete Brownell in the role “within a few weeks.”
The head of the NRA, Wayne LaPierre, called the appointment “the most exciting news for our members since Charlton Heston became President of our Association.”
Heston served as the group’s president from 1998 to 2003, famously shouting, “From my cold, dead hands” as he held a rifle aloft during the NRA convention in 2000.
“Oliver North is a legendary warrior for American freedom, a gifted communicator and skilled leader," LaPierre said in a statement. "In these times, I can think of no one better suited to serve as our President."
North is stepping down from his position as a commentator on Fox News effective immediately, the NRA said. He will take over the gun rights group “as soon as his business affairs [are] put in order,” it added.
In a letter to the NRA’s board of directors expressing his support of the pick, Brownell said that LaPierre recommended reaching out to North, referring to him as “a warrior amongst our board members.”
“Wayne and I feel that in these extraordinary times, a leader with his history as a communicator and resolute defender of the Second Amendment is precisely what the NRA needs,” Brownell wrote.
Brownell will not serve a second term as president of the group so that he can “devote his full time and energy to his family business,” he said.
NRA spokeswoman and conservative commentator Dana Loesch also expressed support on Monday for North, saying on Twitter that he is “the last person that anti-gun advocates would want as the new President of the NRA board.”
Thrilled about the Oliver North news. A total warrior for freedom, this is the last person that anti-gun advocates would want as the new President of the NRA board.— Dana Loesch (@DLoesch) May 7, 2018
North is known for his involvement in the Iran-Contra scandal, a two-part operation in which, despite sanctions, senior officials assisted in the secret sale of weapons to Iran in the 1980s and then funneled the funds to the Contras, a group of right-wing rebels in Nicaragua, in spite of a congressional ban on funding the war there.
A federal judge dismissed his convictions on three felony charges in connection with the scandal in 1991.
A decorated retired Marine lieutenant colonel, North has published several books and hosted a show on Fox called “War Stories.”