Gun Lobby Reacts:

After taking down its Facebook page and remaining silent on Twitter for the past few days, the National Rifle Association is finally responding to the devastating mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. In a statement, the gun lobbyist organization said: “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 also said it would hold a news conference Friday. (Read more)

Gun Analysis, Silver Style: As the gun control debate in America intensifies, Nate Silver is weighing in with a comprehensive statistical analysis of gun ownership in this country. Some of his findings are not surprising. For example, Republicans have more firearms than Democrats, and people living in urban areas are more likely to have guns. But some of the results of the analysis are not as obvious. Gun ownership is highest among the middle class. And despite what President Obama said in 2008 about voters clinging to their guns and religion, Silver discovered that the two are not “strongly related to each other.” (Read more)

Plan B Spurned: President Obama will reject House Speaker John Boehner’s “Plan B” to avoid falling over the fiscal cliff, the White House said Tuesday. Boehner’s backup plan, in case talks with the president fail, is to extend the Bush-era tax cuts to everyone making less than $1 million. But the White House has already decided it won’t accept the proposal because it “doesn’t ask enough of the very wealthiest in taxes and instead shifts the burden to the middle class and seniors.” (Read more)

Madame Defense Secretary? Could the United States finally see its first female secretary of defense in 2013? Possibly. With Sen. John Kerry likely to become the next secretary of state, and Chief of Staff Jack Lew expected to replace Tim Geithner as the treasury secretary, the White House is under pressure to nominate someone who is not a white male to a top Cabinet position. Enter Michele Flournoy, the former undersecretary of defense for policy, who is reportedly getting a second look to helm the defense department after U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice withdrew her name from consideration for the top job at State. Flournoy was the highest-ranking woman at the Pentagon before she stepped down in January to co-found a think tank. (Read more)

Video of the Day: NBC News’ Chief Foreign Correspondent Richard Engel and his crew have all been released unharmed five days after they were kidnapped and taken as prisoners in Syria. The journalists, who are now safely in Turkey, were released after a gunbattle that erupted between their captors and Syrian rebels at a checkpoint. Engel recounted the crew’s ordeal Tuesday morning on NBC’s “Today.”

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