Last year the National Rifle Association (NRA) appointed Pete Brownell, the CEO of Brownells Inc., as its president. It was a smart decision. Brownell comes off as a reasonable human being and is a strong advocate for gun rights. This year the NRA decided to perform a complete 180 degree turn and elected a public relations nightmare:
Oliver L. North, who became a household name in the 1980s for his role in the Iran-contra scandal, will become the next president of the National Rifle Association, the gun rights organization said Monday.
The gun control crowd is already having a field day with this decision and I don’t blame them. It looks a bit hypocritical when an organization that talks insistently about “responsible gun ownership,” “law-abiding citizens,” and “enforcing the laws that already exist” has a bona fide weapon smuggler as its president.
Supporters of the NRA are trying to spin this by pointing out that the Iran-contra fiasco happened a long time ago but that is irrelevant. Time tables don’t matter in the realm of public perception. All that matters is whether gun control advocates are able to convince enough people that North’s previous actions are still relevant in the context of gun politics. If they can accomplish that, the NRA will face even more opposition.