Washington (CNN) -- As the nation sent up a collective wail of grief over the 26 people slaughtered in a Newtown, Connecticut, school last week, the nation's leading gun rights lobby remained silent.

Until now.

The National Rifle Association, with roughly 4.3 million members, deactivated its Facebook page, had stopped tweeting on its Twitter account and had been issuing a "no comment" to any media outlet, including CNN, seeking a response.