The newly elected president of the National Rifle Association has claimed that gun control activists, like those who have emerged following a deadly shooting at a high school in Parkland, Florida, in February, are “civil terrorists.”
Oliver North, who is best known for his role in the Iran-Contra scandal in which profits from weapons sales to Iran were secretly funneled to right-wing guerrillas in Nicaragua, was named the lobbying group’s new president earlier this week. And he has wasted no time attacking activists who have criticized the NRA’s role in continued gun violence.
“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,” Oliver North told the Washington Times. “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.”
In referencing Jim Crow, North appeared to be comparing the plight of the NRA with civil rights activists who fought for racial equality in the 1960s, during a time in which many were beaten and murdered. North said NRA leaders had been subjected to personal “threats.”
After 17 people were killed during the Parkland shooting, student survivors from the school have spoken out about the need for greater gun control as well as criticizing the impact of the NRA on preventing legislation they argue could help curb the number of mass shootings. Unlike previous efforts in the wake of deadly shootings, the Parkland students have fueled an ongoing online and in-person campaign, which has included school walkouts and, in March, the March for Our Lives event where students, and others, took to the streets across the country.
“They can do all the cyberwar against us—they’re doing it,” North said. “They can use the media against us—they are. They’ve gone after our bank accounts, our finances, our donors and obviously individual members. “It’s got to stop.”