The National Rifle Association of America has broken its silence to comment on Friday's gun violence that ravaged a tight-knit Connecticut community, releasing a statement in which the gun-owners' rights group said it "is prepared to offer meaningful contributions to help make sure this never happens again."

In the short statement posted on its blog, as well as on its Facebook page, the organization said that it "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."

The organization had largely been silent in the days after a gunman killed 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., allowing its Facebook and Twitter feeds to fall dormant.

As the AP reported, the silence represented a different approach for the NRA, which has previously released statements of sympathy after mass shootings — along with reminders of its mission to protect the rights of gun owners.

"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 group said Tuesday.

Yesterday, the nonpartisan group the Sunlight Foundation posted a graphic representing its study of the NRA's lobbying and election expenditures over recent years, which showed that the group vastly outspent its opposition.

The NRA's news release comes one day after an estimated 300 protesters gathered at the organization's lobbying offices in Washington, D.C., according to the AP.

In the wake of the Newtown tragedy, calls for stronger gun control laws have come from public figures including President Obama and West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, a longtime NRA member.

Writing here at NPR, our colleague Alan Greenblatt analyzed What Gun Control Could Look Like, if changes to federal law were made. And as Marilyn wrote for the Two Way yesterday, investors have bailed out of gun makers' stocks in the wake of the Newtown attack.

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