After days of silence following the devastating mass shooting that claimed the lives of 20 children and six educators at a Connecticut elementary school, the National Rifle Association has issued a statement, saying it was "shocked, saddened and heartbroken by the news of the horrific and senseless murders in Newtown."

The organization, which had been quiet after suspected shooter Adam Lanza killed the 26 people with the semi-automatic Bushmaster AR-15 on Friday, claimed it was waiting for "mourning, prayer, and a full investigation" before commenting and said, "The NRA is prepared to offer meaningful contributions to help make sure this never happens again."

A press conference is scheduled for Friday. Here's the full statement:

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 for 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 NRA is planning to hold a major news conference in the Washington, DC area on Friday, December 21.

Details will be released to the media at the appropriate time.

The NY Times noted today that the NRA has "a $300 million budget, millions of members around the country and virtually unmatched ferocity in advancing its political and legislative interests. Over the years, the N.R.A. has deployed armies of lobbyists around the country to knock back efforts to regulate guns and expand owners’ ability to carry concealed weapons in schools, parks, bars and churches. It has formed close partnerships with gun makers and business organizations around the country, working to protect manufacturers from liability and introduce model bills in state legislatures."

However it's believed that the deaths of 20 children, ages six and seven, is the "tipping point" for discussion, because the deaths of people at Oak Brook, Aurora, Virginia Tech, etc. weren't enough. Mayor Bloomberg suggested he might use his fortune to go after the gun lobby and Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-California) says she'll introduce an assault weapons ban bill in January.

Authorities have said that Lanza had hundreds of round of ammunition with him. Senator Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia), who supports the NRA and received an "A" from the group, said yesterday there was no need for so many rounds of ammunition in a clip.