The National Rifle Association is a non-profit group whose main goal is the protection of the second amendement. It’s the most powerful and influential group with this stated mission, and therefore is the first to be mentioned whenever the country starts talking about guns.
And right now, as I’m sure you know, this country is talking about guns.
Following the mass shooting at the Sandy Hook elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut that left 26 innocents dead (including 20 children), guns have been at the center of the discussion. That means gun rights, gun control, gun culture – you name it. The killer is reported to have used an AR-15 style rifle – a style that’s becoming popular with people who execute these mass shootings (think Aurora movie theater and Oregon mall). It’s also simply one of the more popular weapons among American gun owners in general. All the guns in his possession were apparently purchased legally, and those guns were able to fire off hundreds of rounds in a short period of time.
These are the gun facts surrounding the tragedy, but Americans will not be able to agree on their significance. Gun rights/restrictions is one of the most devise issues around. And immediately following a tragedy as terrible as Newtown, emotions run hot, leading to incredibly heated debate.
And apparently, the NRA wants no part in the debate, or at least doesn’t want to host that debate (at least for now). Shortly following the first reports of the shootings, the NRA hid their Facebook page.
Just one day before all of this, the NRA had posted a celebratory message to their members boasting that the Facebook page had just hit 1.7 million likes.
As of this morning, the page facebook.com/nationalrifleassociation is still inaccessible. Users attempting to access it will be directed back to the homepage.
It appears that the NRA has chosen to unpublish their page, which page admins can do from the permissions settings. Unpublishing a page makes it only visible to admins. It would seem that the NRA knew that silence on the issue would not truly remove them from the unavoidable debate – at least not on Facebook. And they were right, Their wall would have become a message board for pro-gun and anti-gun activists to bicker back and forth. Even if the NRA would have disabled posts from users on their wall, users would have been able to use past NRA posts to conduct the flame war.
The NRA is taking a slightly different approach on Twitter – opting for the silence. The NRA’s account is still up and running, but there hasn’t been a tweet since early last Friday, hours before the shooting occurred. Though the NRA can still receive plenty of mentions (both positive and negative) from other users, they are much less visible than on Facebook. In short, it’s harder to escalate a flame war through Twitter mentions than through Facebook comments.
We’ve reached out to the NRA for comment on their social media blackout and will update this article accordingly.