I'M cynthia McFadden. Church bells rang out in a moment of national silence at 9:30 this morning. Even as the nation comes together to mourn, we remain deeply divided. All week with "nightline" has... See More
I'M cynthia McFadden. Church bells rang out in a moment of national silence at 9:30 this morning. Even as the nation comes together to mourn, we remain deeply divided. All week with "nightline" has dedicated our broadcast to examining the complex relationship between america and its guns. Tonight the most divisive day yet. Here's my coanchor, terry moran. Reporter: In newtown this morning, silence after one week after the screaming and the madman shooting. Silence across the country and in the oval office and the chent marker of mourning and remembrance, church bells. the pain is raw, the horror fresh. But in washington the debate is already beginning and today a key voice, a powerful voice was at last heard. The national rifle association. The long-time executive vice president of the nra took to the podium in washington just an hour or so after the national moment of remembrance. Foweek, the nra had been silent, uncharacteristically silent as their opponents slammed back at them. Today he fired back. The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun. But since when did the gun automatically become a bad word? I call on congress today to act immediately to appropriate whatever is necessary to put armed police officers in every single school in this nation. Reporter: It was the classic nra crisis response no, retreat, no surrender. The answer to gun violence is, more guns he said and he railed against the very notion of gun-free school zones. They tell every insane killer in america that schools are the safest place to inflict maximum mayhem with minimum risk. Reporter: He had another mission, blame. It's not guns, he argued, it's -- violent video games, the political class here in washington, d.C., The national media machine. Reporter: As he spoke gun control activists that slipped past tight security twice interrupted him. Nra, stop killing our children. Reporter: On captiol hill, democrats seeking tougher gun control laws denounced his proposals. The nra has declined to step forward as a credible and constructive partner. There was this on the facebook page of mark kelly, husband of gabrielle giffords grievously wounded in a mass shooting last year. Gabby and I are extremely disappointed. The nra could have chosen to be a voice for the vast majority of its own members who want common sense reasonable safety guards on firearms but instead it chose to defend extreme pro-gun positions. The message wasn't aimted at critics but a reminder to allies, politicians who need the nra's support, tow the line. They stifle any meaningful discussion about these issues everyone, whether you are a democrat or republican, you are afraid of them. They bully you. Reporter: Debra mag guard, a former leader in the house of representatives is a life long member of the nra, a staunch conservative and supported gun rights in her career earning an a-plus rating in her career until this year when she opposed a bill allowing tennesseans to carry guns in their cars. Never voted against them but the one time we say, w minute. This is really not a good idea, they ce after me as hard as they could. Reporter: They sure did. Billboards pairing mag ard with president obama. Both say they support our second amendment rights but worked against our freedoms behind closed doors. They prey on your fears and know most people won't have the courage to stand up to them. But debra maggard did and paid the price. She lost her race to the nara backed challenger. In this year's presidential campaign the gop candidates fell all over themselves to curry favor with the organization it. Is great to be with so many friends here today from the national rifle association. Reporter: But is it different this time? Nempb this country at one time or another has loved a 6 or 7-year-old and I think the nra for once I think everybody is payi attention to how they operate. They have stifled meaningful discussion by using fear and intimidation tactics to keep people from saying the things that maybe need to be said. Our thanks to terry moran.
This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.