Who Is Oliver North? New NRA President Was Behind Illegal Iran-Contra Arms Sales

Retired U.S. Marine Corps Lieutenant Colonel Oliver North will become the new president of the National Rifle Association (NRA), the gun rights group announced Monday. North, perhaps most famous for his role in the Iran-Contra affair, will become president of the NRA "within a few weeks," according to a press release.

NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre called North "a legendary warrior for American freedom" in a statement Monday, and said the announcement was "the most exciting news for our members since Charlton Heston become President of our Association." In the wake of the Parkland, Florida high school shooting that left 17 people dead in February, the divisive gun rights organization has faced mounting criticism due to its efforts to stop the enactment of gun control laws. The NRA also is reportedly under investigation for taking illegal donations from Russian sources.

If anyone is familiar with navigating controversy and scandal, it's North, who was fired from his role at the National Security Council in 1986 by President Ronald Reagan for authorizing the sale of weapons to Iran in order to fund anti-socialist rebels in Nicaragua. North was found guilty of shredding government documents, receiving a bribe and lying to Congress for his role in the scandal, but the conviction was eventually dismissed on the grounds that part of North's immunized testimony before Congress had been used against him during his trial.

North went on to run for Senate from Virginia as a Republican in 1994, but lost to Democrat Charles Robb in a race one political expert said featured "the two most unpopular party nominees" in state history. North eventually became an NRA board member, author and political commentator on Fox News. In its statement, the NRA said North would retire from the network.

North will replace current NRA president Pete Brownell. ​

Who Is Oliver North? New NRA President Was Behind Illegal Iran-Contra Arms Sales | U.S.