NRA ‘shocked, saddened,’ will hold news conference Friday

December 18, 2012

The National Rifle Association will hold a "major" news conference Friday, the organization announced in a statement Tuesday afternoon, promising "meaningful contributions to help make sure this never happens again." 

Members were "shocked, saddened and heartbroken by the news of the horrific and senseless murders" in Newtown, Conn. the statement says. The powerful gun lobbying group stayed silent in the days after "out of respect for the families, and as a matter of common decency." 

The NRA suspended its Facebook account and ceased activity on Twitter Friday morning, as news of the shootings first spread. Both accounts are now active again. As Erik Wemple notes, holding a high-profile press event in the wake of a mass shooting is a break from precedent for the NRA. The organization has not answered requests for comment from the media in recent days.  

The press conference will be held in Washington on Friday.

Numerous Democratic senators supported by the NRA have expressed new interest in restrictions on guns, particularly assault weapons, in the wake of the elementary school shootings. President Obama is “actively supportive” of planned legislation to reinstate the national assault weapons ban, a spokesman said Tuesday. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) has promised to introduce that kind of legislation on the first day of the new Congress next month.

However, gun control advocates still face a very well-funded and focused opposition. In 2010, the NRA spent roughly $240 million more than the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, the biggest-spending gun control group.

Critics argue that the NRA's influence is vastly overrated, noting that the group spreads its money widely and often backs losing candidates. It's been so long since serious gun control legislation has been introduced that it's hard to know what the group's influence will be in a legislative fight. (On the state legislature level, the NRA's power is more obvious.) 

The full statement from the NRA: 

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.

Rachel Weiner covers cops and courts in Arlington and Alexandria.
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Natalie Jennings | December 18, 2012