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December 19, 2012

NRA promises to help prevent school shootings

WASHINGTON, D.C. — After four days of self-imposed silence on the shooting that killed 26 people inside a Newtown, Conn., elementary school, the nation’s largest gun rights lobby emerged Tuesday and promised “to offer meaningful contributions to help make sure this never happens again.”

The National Rifle Association explained its unusual absence “out of respect for the families and as a matter of common decency” after Friday’s shooting that left 20 children dead, all ages 6 or 7.

 Typically outspoken about its positions even after shooting deaths, the group went all but silent since the rampage. As it faced public scrutiny online and in person, the group left many wondering how it would respond to one of the most shocking slayings in the nation’s history.

“The National Rifle Association of America is made up of 4 million moms and dads, sons and daughters, and we were shocked, saddened and heartbroken by the news of the horrific and senseless murders in Newtown,” the organization has said in a statement.

“The NRA is prepared to offer meaningful contributions to help make sure this never happens again.”

The group said it would have a news conference to answer questions Friday, the one-week anniversary of the shootings.

Almost immediately after it became clear the extent of carnage, the group’s Facebook page disappeared. It posted no tweets. It made no mention of the shooting on its website. None of its leaders hit the media circuit Sunday to promote its support of the Second Amendment right to bear arms.

On Monday, the NRA offered no rebuttal as 300 anti-gun protesters marched to its Capitol Hill office.

Yet on Tuesday, the NRA re-emerged, albeit more slowly than normal and with its somber statement.

There’s no indication that the National Rifle Association is prepared to weaken its ardent opposition to gun restrictions but it did hint it was open to being part of a dialogue that already has begun.

Its deep-pocketed efforts to oppose gun control laws have proven resilient.

 Seldom had the NRA gone so long after a fatal shooting without a public presence. It resumed tweeting just one day after a gunman killed two people and then himself at an Oregon shopping mall last Tuesday. The Connecticut shootings occurred three days after the incident in Oregon.

Since the Connecticut shootings, the NRA has been taunted and criticized at length, which may have prompted the shuttering of its Facebook page just a day after the association boasted about reaching 1.7 million supporters.

Twitter users have been relentlessly protesting the organization with hashtags like NoWayNRA.

The NRA has not responded to them.

Offline, some 300 protesters gathered outside the NRA’s lobbying headquarters on Capitol Hill on Monday chanting, “Shame on the NRA” and waving signs declaring “Kill the 2nd Amendment, Not Children” and “Protect Children, Not Guns.”

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