Oliver L. North, the incoming president of the National Rifle Association, said this week the gun rights group was a victim of “civil terrorism” and accused gun control activists of “intimidation and harassment and lawbreaking.”
Now, several of the students who survived the Valentine’s Day shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., are pushing back.
“He’s just continuing to spread fear. He’s definitely a good fit for his new job,” Ryan Deitsch, a senior at the school, said in an interview during his lunch period on Friday.
Mr. Deitsch said he wants to sit down and speak with Mr. North to understand his perspective. But he expressed frustration that, with their criticism of gun control activists, Mr. North and the N.R.A. seemed more focused on “attacking the speaker and not the speech.”
Mr. North, infamous for his role in the Iran-contra affair of the 1980s, made the remarks in a broad interview with The Washington Times, published on Wednesday. He was named incoming president of the N.R.A. on Monday.
In the interview, Mr. North, a former Marine Corps lieutenant colonel, drew a comparison between the backlash to the N.R.A. and the ignominies of the Jim Crow era.
“This is civil terrorism,” he told The Washington Times, reportedly in reference to activists splashing fake blood on the home of an N.R.A. official. “This is the kind of thing that’s never been seen against a civil rights organization in America.”
“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,” he said.
During the Jim Crow era, many states and cities passed laws that institutionalized racial discrimination and segregation. Lynchings were common. Civil rights activists were beaten and killed.
The comments elicited a strong rebuke from Fred Guttenberg, whose 14-year-old daughter Jaime was among those killed in Parkland.
“We will end your reign of terror and we will pass common sense gun safety in this country. Your remarks sound like the remarks of a lobby that has already lost the argument and so you attack us,” he said in a series of tweets.
That sentiment was echoed by several students at the school, many of whom, like Mr. Deitsch, have become outspoken proponents of gun control since the shooting.
“Never knew that not wanting to die by being shot by an AR-15 in my classroom was considered terrorism,” Lauren Hogg, a Stoneman Douglas student, said on Twitter. “Thanks @NRA now I know.”
Another student, Cameron Kasky, said: “Go ahead, North. It speaks so beautifully for the NRA’s true colors that they put this crook in charge.”
Mr. Kasky appeared to be referring to the three crimes Mr. North was convicted of in 1989 for his role in the Iran-contra scandal, in which the Reagan administration used funds from the secret sale of arms to Iran to aid rebel forces in Nicaragua. The convictions were reversed in 1991.
In the Wednesday interview, Mr. North, a former Fox News contributor, addressed the Parkland shooting, calling it a “travesty” and blaming it on a failure among local authorities and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. He also suggested that the student survivors had been swept up by anti-gun propaganda.
“What they did very successfully with a frontal assault, and now intimidation and harassment and lawbreaking, is they confused the American people,” he told The Washington Times. “Our job is to get the straight story out about what happened there, and to make sure that kind of thing doesn’t happen again because the proper things are being done with the advocacy of the N.R.A.”
The N.R.A. did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
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