An attendee handles a revolver in the Sturm, Ruger & Co., Inc. booth on the exhibition floor of the 144th National Rifle Association (NRA) Annual Meetings and Exhibits at the Music City Center in Nashville, Tenn. on April 11, 2015.
Photo by Daniel Acker/Bloomberg/Getty

NRA’s Oliver North compares gun owners to Jim Crow victims

The National Rifle Association announced earlier this week that Oliver North, of all people, would soon take the reins at the right-wing advocacy group as its new president. The news prompted no shortage of commentary about the irony surrounding the NRA being led by a man who faced criminal charges for illegal weapons sales.

Nevertheless, it seems North is settling into his new gig by adopting the group’s usual posture.

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.”

Yes, there’s the incoming NRA president saying – out loud and on the record – that the NRA currently has it worse than the victims of Jim Crow.

There was no indication that North was kidding.

I’ll leave it to others to provide the new NRA chief with a detailed history lesson, but there are a couple of angles to his whining that are worth keeping in mind.

First, the right’s persecution complex remains a staple of conservative thought. North and his brethren seem to believe they are genuine victims, worthy of societal pity. To present unpopular ideas rejected by the American mainstream is, from North’s perspective, to face intolerable persecution at the hands of “civil terrorists.”

I don’t doubt some will find such nonsense persuasive, but understanding why is a challenge.

Second, didn’t the NRA just hold an event in which the president of the United States came to sing the right-wing organization’s praises? Didn’t the vice president of the United States do the same thing? Doesn’t the NRA enjoy unflinching support from the Republican leadership in control of both chambers of Congress?

I imagine victims of Jim Crow would’ve welcomed such backing from the most powerful political leaders of the day.