Oliver North Thinks NRA Leaders Are Being Treated Like Black Americans Under Jim Crow

The NRA’s new president says its opponents are engaging in “civil terrorism.”

Oliver North gives the Invocation at the National Rifle Association-Institute for Legislative Action Leadership Forum in Dallas, Texas, on May 4, 2018. Sue Ogrocki/AP

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On Wednesday, the Washington Times published an exclusive interview with the incoming president of the National Rifle Association, Oliver North, in which he claimed that the NRA’s leaders are the victims of “civil terrorism” at the hands of gun safety advocates. He referenced unspecified “threats” and noted that vandals splashed fake blood on a NRA official’s Virginia home. He likened this treatment to that of black Americans during the era of legally sanctioned racial segregation.

“They call them activists. That’s what they’re calling themselves. They’re not activists—this is civil terrorism. This is the kind of thing that’s never been seen against a civil rights organization in America,” he said. “You go back to the terrible days of Jim Crow and those kinds of things—even there you didn’t have this kind of thing.”

Before embracing the Second Amendment, North was best known for taking the Fifth. In the two decades after North was found guilty of obstructing a congressional investigation, stealing and destroying evidence, and accepting an illegal gratuity for his role in shady weapons deals to Iran to covertly fund Contra rebels in Nicaragua in the 1980s—”ancient history,” he calls it in the interview—North made a career as a conservative talk radio host and Fox News commentator. (North’s convictions were later overturned on a technicality.) Today, he says part of his new job is to “tell the truth.” 

In his interview with the Washington Times, North went on to accuse the teenage survivors of the Parkland shooting of “intimidation and harassment and lawbreaking.” He said, “What they did very successfully with a frontal assault…is they confused the American people.” In response, he said, his role as the NRA president is to “counter-punch” the blowback facing the organization. He said he hopes to add 1 million new members to the NRA, “as fast as we can.” 

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You expect the big picture, and it's our job at Mother Jones to give it to you. And right now, so many of the troubles we face are the making not of a virus, but of the quest for profit, political or economic (and not just from the man in the White House who could have offered leadership and comfort but instead gave us bleach).

In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," we unpack what the coronavirus crisis has meant for journalism, including Mother Jones’, and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support our nonprofit journalism with a donation: We've scoured our budget and made the cuts we can without impairing our mission, and we hope to raise $400,000 from our community of online readers to help keep our big reporting projects going because this extraordinary pandemic-plus-election year is no time to pull back.

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