The National Rifle Association's angry, uncompromising and occasionally rambling response to calls for a ban on assault weapons has shocked many observers in the US, who expected the organisation's chief executive, Wayne LaPierre, to strike a more conciliatory tone.
Speaking only 1½ hours after much of the nation paused to remember those killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School, Mr LaPierre made a long statement blaming the media, video games and the US's mental health system for mass killings, using one of the NRA's favourite slogans: ''The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.''
As he spoke, four people, including a gunman, were killed in an incident in Pennsylvania in which two state troopers were injured, one of whom was shot in his bulletproof vest.
Mr LaPierre called for immediate action to place armed guards at all American schools and for a national database for the mentally ill.
The NRA maintains its opposition to a database of gun owners.
''In a race to the bottom, media conglomerates compete with one another to shock, violate and offend every standard of civilised society by bringing an ever more toxic mix of reckless behaviour and criminal cruelty into our homes - every minute of every day of every month of every year,'' he said.
He called the media and their owners ''silent enablers, if not complicit co-conspirators''.
''Rather than face their own moral failings, the media demonise lawful gun owners, amplify their cries for more laws and fill the national debate with misinformation and dishonest thinking that only delay meaningful action and all but guarantee that the next atrocity is only a news cycle away,'' he said.
He said the true danger was gun-free zones such as schools.
The New York mayor, Michael Bloomberg, who is co-chairman of Mayors Against Illegal Guns, said the NRA ''offered a paranoid, dystopian vision of a more dangerous and violent America''.
The Democratic senator Frank Lautenberg, of New Jersey, said: ''It is beyond belief that, following the Newtown tragedy, the National Rifle Association's leaders want to fill our communities with guns and arm more Americans. The NRA points the finger of blame everywhere and anywhere it can but they cannot escape the devastating effects of their reckless comments and irresponsible lobbying tactics.
''The NRA leadership is wildly out of touch with its own members, responsible gun owners and the American public, who want to close dangerous loopholes and enact commonsense gun safety reform.''
Chris Murphy, a Democratic senator from Connecticut, where the killings took place, tweeted: ''Walking out of another funeral and was handed the NRA transcript. The most revolting, tone deaf statement I've ever seen.''
But some leading conservatives also questioned the NRA's position.
''I don't even know where to begin,'' the former Republican National Committee chairman Michael Steele said on msnbc. ''As a supporter of the second amendment and a supporter of the NRA - even though I'm not a member of the NRA - I just found it very haunting and very disturbing that our country now is talking about arming our teachers and our principals in classrooms.''
The governor of New Jersey, Chris Christie, one of the most prominent Republicans in the nation, said: ''In general, I don't think that the solution to safety in schools is putting an armed guard because, for it to be really effective in my view, from a law-enforcement perspective, you have to have an armed guard at every classroom.
''Because if you just have an armed guard at the front door, then what if this guy had gone around to the side door? There's many doors in and out of schools.''