The National Rifle Association announced Monday retired Marine Lt. Col. Oliver North will be its next president, succeeding Pete Brownell.
The NRA’s board of directors said it is starting the process to formally instate North, a former Ronald Reagan administration official, in the coming weeks.
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"I am honored to have been selected by the NRA Board to soon serve as this great organization’s President," North said. "I appreciate the board initiating a process that affords me a few weeks to set my affairs in order, and I am eager to hit the ground running as the new NRA President."
NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre compared North to past president Charlton Heston, the Hollywood star who led the organization from 1998 to 2003 and also had a friendship with President Reagan.
"This is the most exciting news for our members since Charlton Heston became President of our Association," LaPierre said. "Oliver North is a legendary warrior for American freedom, a gifted communicator and skilled leader. In these times, I can think of no one better suited to serve as our President."
North was convicted on charges related to the Iran-contra affair during the Reagan administration, but the ruling was reversed in 1991. He has been a commentator on Fox News, and Monday he announced he was retiring from that position immediately.
Brownell has stepped down from the office to focus on his family business, firearm and accessory retailer Brownells, and he said LaPierre and he had discussed North as his successor.
"Discussing this with Wayne LaPierre, he suggested we reach out to a warrior amongst our board members, Lt. Colonel Oliver North, to succeed me," Brownell wrote. "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."
LaPierre thanked Brownell, who became president in 2017, for his service to the organization.
"Pete has served the NRA with great courage and distinction," LaPierre said. "I am grateful that he joined me in enthusiastically recommending Oliver North to the Board of Directors."
"The board acted quickly and with great vision," LaPierre also said. "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."