19/12/2012 04:16 GMT | Updated 19/12/2012 04:31 GMT

NRA Is 'Shocked, Saddened & Heartbroken': US Gun Lobby Breaks Silence After Sandy Hook Massacre

The National Rifle Association has broken its silence, four days after the school shooting which left 20 children and six adults dead.

American’s largest gun lobby had deactivated its Facebook page and refrained from Tweeting in the immediate aftermath of the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in Newtown, Connecticut.

The organisation has been fiercely targeted by those who support stronger gun control laws, with protesters marching on its Washington DC headquarters on Monday.

The National Rifle Association describes itself as 'America's foremost defender of Second Amendment rights'

The NRA’s official website has now released a statement and promises to hold a “major” news conference on Friday.

The statement said:

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 or 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 BBC points out that after Columbine shootings of 1999, Wayne LaPierre, executive vice-president of the NRA deflected the blame and asked Americans to examine the moral breakdown of society and depictions of violence in Hollywood.

He told MSNBC television: "We're increasingly looking away at behaviour that our parents would never have tolerated.

"We're looking the other way at evil behaviour and we really need to focus on what would turn students into homicidal maniacs."

According to the New York Times, the NRA has a $300million budget, and boasts a "virtually unmatched ferocity in advancing its political and legislative interests".

The NRA website declares that the lobby "continues to be the leader in firearms education" and boasts of enlisting over 55,000 certified instructors to train around 750,000 gun owners a year.