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    US Gun Lobby Responds, Briefly: School Shooting Developments

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    With much of the United States still reeling from a devastating elementary school massacre last week, the prolific National Rifle Association (NRA) – one of the most powerful lobbying organizations in the US – had still said precious little five days after the shooting nightmare that has gripped much of the nation.

    December 18 (RIA Novosti) - With much of the United States still reeling from a devastating elementary school massacre last week, the prolific National Rifle Association (NRA) – one of the most powerful lobbying organizations in the US – had still said precious little five days after the shooting nightmare that has gripped much of the nation.

    No rhetoric opposing the calls for gun control legislation. No response to the hundreds of protesters who showed up outside the Washington office on Monday. No reply to the scathing remarks that soon its Twitter in the hours after the shooting that killed 20 young children and seven adults at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, all things the NRA has done in the past.

    This time, there was none of the response typical of a sophisticated organization well-schooled in crisis management that has been down this path before. The silence was deafening.

    By late Tuesday the NRA issued a brief response, and promised to say more in the days ahead.

    “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,” it said in a statement released to the media.

    “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.”

    Perhaps most telling, the statement said the NRA “is prepared to offer meaningful contributions to make sure this never happens again.” The organization has scheduled what it calls a “major” press conference on Friday.

    In other developments related to the shooting:

    ·         Two more funerals were held for young victims on Tuesday. Six-year-olds James Mattioli and Jessica Rekos were laid to rest. The remaining 23 victims will be buried in the coming days.

    ·         Most students in Newtown returned to classes for the first time since the tragedy struck. Sandy Hook Elementary remains closed while school officials try to locate another facility for classes as the investigation at the school continues.

    ·         Republicans in the US House of Representatives discussed the issue of gun control at a closed-door meeting on Capitol Hill Tuesday. Some in the group – which traditionally opposes any suggestion of gun control legislation – said afterwards they were willing to discuss the issue, according to The Associated Press.

    ·         The entertainment industry responded to the shooting by cancelling some shows, delaying others, and adding audience warnings about potentially disturbing material. The Weinstein Company halted Tuesday’s premier of the graphically violent movie “Django Unchained.” The TLC network announced it would postpone a planned December viewing of “Best Funeral Ever” about a Texas funeral home until sometime in January. A New York City screening of “Jack Reacher,” a violent movie starring Tom Cruise, was cancelled on Monday. Cable network HBO replaced planned showings of a crime thriller “Contraband” with two romantic comedies.

    ·         A survey found the US public pretty evenly divided as to whether the shootings were just the acts of a troubled individual or an indication of a broader problem in American society. The nonprofit Pew Research Center also found women were more likely than men and college graduates were more likely than those with no more than a high school education to find that the shootings reflect a broader problem.

    ·         The US Conference of Mayors urged President Barack Obama and members of Congress to ban assault weapons and high capacity magazines, strengthen national background checks and strengthen so-called straw purchases, in which legal buyers purchase guns for others. The group sent an open letter to the president and Congress on Tuesday.

    ·         National retailer Dick’s Sporting Goods announced Tuesday it was halting certain gun sales nationwide including semi-automatic rifles and pulled all guns from its stores near the shooting site. The company said it was a move made out of respect for the victims and their families during a time of mourning. It was not clear when the company might resume gun sales.

    ·         Private equity firm Cerberus Capital Management  announced Tuesday it would sell off its interest in firearms companies – including Bushmaster, which produced the rifle used in the school shooting. “It is apparent that the Sandy Hook tragedy was a watershed event that has raised the national debate on gun control to an unprecedented level,” the company said in its statement.

    ·         Several firearms makers saw a significant decline in stock that has continued in the days since the shooting, including Smith & Wesson, Sturm Ruger and Cabela’s, which sells outdoor gear including guns and ammunition, the Washington Post reported. “Every time one of these tragic events occurs, there’s certainly a flurry of discussion over whether or not the government may tighten gun-control legislation,” security analyst Rommel Dionisio  told the Post. It could be different this time, he said, because of “the use of what can be considered an assault rifle and certainly the number of children, and the fact that it was very young children.”

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