Public relations experts who have experience working with the gun industry expressed horror on Friday afternoon at the National Rifle Association's response to the Newtown, Conn., shootings.

The group's executive vice president, Wayne LaPierre, struck a scolding tone on Friday, blaming the video game industry and media for exposing youth to a culture of violence, and calling for armed police or security guards in schools: "The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun," LaPierre said.

Public relations professionals reached by The Huffington Post said the timing of his message, which broke a week of silence in the wake of the tragic murder of 26 children and adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School, could be an irredeemable mistake for the group.

“It was worse than if the NRA had not spoken at all,” said Gene Grabowski, executive vice president of Levick Strategic Communications, a Washington, D.C.-based issues management firm that has worked with firearms manufacturers. "The same message about the culture in another time and place might have made sense, but in context of tragedy, it seemed mean-spirited, cold and misguided."

Grabowski also said the NRA made a mistake by remaining silent on its social media channels last week. After the Sandy Hook tragedy, the organization stopped activity on all of its Twitter, Facebook and YouTube accounts.

The NRA is under close scrutiny this week as the Sandy Hook shooting renews the political and social debate over gun-control laws. The organization is one of the nation's most powerful lobby groups, but its extreme policy positions don't jibe with all gun owners, many of whom support tighter gun-control laws, according to a survey from a prominent Republican pollster in July.

"They have come out too aggressively," said Jonathan Bernstein, president of Los Angeles-based Bernstein Crisis Management. "[I'm] not even sure they have listened to their own members."

The NRA did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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  • Stephen Feinberg, Cerberus Capital CEO

    Stephen Feinberg is CEO of Cerberus Capital Management, the private equity firm that <a href="">owns Freedom Group</a>, <a href="">the country's largest gun manufacturer</a> and owner of the Bushmaster brand. <a href="">Cerberus announced on Tuesday</a> that it plans to sell its stake in Freedom Group. <a href="">Adam Lanza</a>, 20, used a Bushmaster rifle to murder 26 people at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn., on Friday.

  • Wayne LaPierre, National Rifle Association CEO

    <a href="">Wayne LaPierre</a> is executive vice president and CEO of the National Rifle Association (NRA), the gun industry's top lobbying organization.

  • George Kollitides, Freedom Group CEO

    <a href="">George Kollitides</a> <a href="">is CEO</a> of <a href="">Freedom Group</a>, the country's largest gun manufacturer, which owns Bushmaster.

  • P. James Debney, Smith & Wesson CEO

    <a href="">P. James Debney</a> is president and CEO of Smith & Wesson, a major U.S. gun manufacturer.

  • William M. Keys, Colt's CEO

    Lt. General <a href="">William M. Keys</a> has served as <a href="">CEO</a> of Colt's Manufacturing Company, a major gun manufacturer, since 1999.

  • C. Michael Jacobi, Sturm, Ruger & Co. Chairman

    <a href="">C. Michael Jacobi</a> is chairman of <a href="">Sturm, Ruger, & Co.</a>, a major gun manufacturer.

  • Walter McLallen, Marlin Firearms Chairman

    <a href="">Walter McLallen</a> is chairman of Marlin Firearms, a major gun manufacturer, which is owned by Freedom Group.

  • John DeSantis, Bushmaster Firearms President*

    <a href="">John DeSantis is apparently still president of Bushmaster Firearms</a>, which is owned by Freedom Group. *Though the company announced his intention to resign in 2010, it has not publicly named a successor and would not return HuffPost's request for comment.