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No NRA tweets or comments: A savvy tactic or mistake? (+video)

In an unusual move, the NRA has gone silent on the Newtown, Conn. shooting. The National Rifle Association has taken down its Facebook page too. As the gun control debate heats up, is the NRA being tactically savvy?

By Philip ElliottAssociated Press / December 18, 2012

The National Rifle Association hasn't issued any public comments on the Sandy Hook, Conn., shooting.

Washington

[UPDATED 5 pm Tuesday.]

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The largest U.S. gun-rights organization — typically outspoken, even after shooting deaths — has gone all but silent since last week's rampage at a Connecticut school left 26 people dead, including 20 children.

The National Rifle Association's Facebook page has disappeared. The NRA has posted no tweets. It makes no mention of the shooting on its website. None of its leaders hit the media circuit Sunday to promote its support of the U.S. Constitution's Second Amendment right to bear arms as the nation mourns the latest mass shooting victims and opens a new debate over gun restrictions. On Monday, the NRA offered no rebuttal as 300 anti-gun protesters marched to its Capitol Hill office.

[The NRA released the following statement Tuesday afternoon:

"The National Rifle Association of America is made up of four 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.

Out of respect for the families, and as a matter of common decency, we have given time for mourning, prayer and a full investigation of the facts before commenting. The NRA is prepared to offer meaningful contributions to help make sure this never happens again.

The NRA is planning to hold a major news conference in the Washington, DC area on Friday, December 21.]

After previous mass shootings, the group was quick to both send its condolences and defend gun owners' constitutional rights, popular among millions of Americans. There's no indication that the NRA's silence this time is a signal that a change in its ardent opposition to gun restrictions is imminent.

There has been no explanation for its absence from the debate thus far.

The NRA, which claims 4.3 million members, did not return telephone messages Monday seeking comment.

Its well-funded efforts to oppose gun control laws have proven resilient. Firearms are in a third or more of U.S. households, and suspicion runs deep of an overbearing government whenever it proposes expanding federal authority. The argument of gun-rights advocates that firearm ownership is a bedrock freedom as well as a necessary option for self-defense has proved persuasive enough to dampen political enthusiasm for substantial change.

The NRA's reach is wide as it spends millions to defeat lawmakers, many of them Democrats, who push for restrictions on gun ownership.

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