The National Rifle Association has put its social media accounts on lock-down, and you don’t have to dig deep to see why. The last tweet from the association’s main account, sent at 9:36 a.m. Friday, shortly before news of the Newtown, Conn. shooting broke, earned dozens of outraged responses in the hours after.



Since then, the association has stopped tweeting on all three of its accounts and suspended its Facebook page, which celebrated 1.7 million fans Thursday. The move is unusual in the hypersensitive world of organizational PR, but it’s not unprecedented. Over the summer, the NRA deleted its magazine account, @NRA_Rifleman, to minimize attention after the Aurora movie theater shootings.

Attention is the last thing many gun advocates want this week. Betsy Fischer Martin, the executive producer for Meet the Press, tweeted yesterday that none of 31 pro-gun rights senators contacted by the program wanted to appear on the Sunday show. Even Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.V.) and Mark Warner (D-Va.), both of whom have gotten “A” ratings from the NRA, spoke favorably Monday of new weapons legislation. 

That doesn’t mean those NRA social accounts are gone for good, of course. The association has 30 days to restore its Facebook account without losing any data. In the meantime, people on both sides of the unfolding debate have taken their vitriol to other pages. The Gun Owners of America and the Second Amendment Foundation are Facebooking in force; a recent post from the SAF that appears to encourage arming teachers has racked up 4,000 likes and more than 1,200 comments.