NRA president vows to double gun lobby membership

POCATELLO, Idaho (AP) -- Retired Lt. Col. Oliver North says his top goal as the next president of the National Rifle Association is to double the membership of the powerful gun lobby.

North made the promise while speaking in Pocatello, Idaho for the state's Republican Party convention on Friday.

The 74-year-old North defended his organization's work during his 20-minute speech, calling it the nation's largest "civil rights organization." His speech included video testimonials of NRA members sharing why gun rights are important to protect.

North, a Marine at the center of the Iran-Contra scandal in the 1980s and a darling of the right, is the biggest celebrity to lead the 6-million gun lobby since Hollywood leading man Charlton Heston.

GOP officials on Friday noted that Heston spoke at the Idaho GOP convention 20 years ago when he was also first appointed to the gun lobby.

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