More than constitutional tricks killed moving an amendment to the Senate floor for debate - talking, the kind most Americans find boring. It was faulty thinking - Americans' rotten idealism gone berserk. Money didn't defeat Manchin-Toomey, but NRA-affiliated donations and dark money certainly helped.
Documents also show the NRA saw a surge in donations to its lobbying arm in the months following Newtown – registering a record $2.7m in cash during January and February. Further disclosures showing the scale of its recent donations, particularly to politicians in the House of Representatives, are expected on Saturday.
The Gun Owners of America and National Association for Gun Rights – two groups seen as more conservative than the NRA – have also been active in the Senate, giving $9,000 and $5,000 respectively to Ted Cruz, one of the leaders of Republican opposition to the amendment.
Others to receive arms-related donations recently include Senator Richard Burr of North Carolina, who received $1,000 on 4 March from BAE Systems, a British defence group that manufacturers ammunition, although mostly for military purposes.
Some of the more relevant donations do not come explicitly from gun campaigners. Senator Jeff Flake, a crucial swing voter from Arizona who turned against gun control at the last minute, received $5,000 in 2012 from The Madison Project, a right-wing campaign group that lists gun rights as one of its top priorities. On 9 April, it warned against Republicans such as Flake, who voted for the gun debate, and urged members to call these senators and "tell them that when the Bill of Rights reads 'shall not be infringed' with regards to the second amendment, it means exactly that".
Though the sums are relatively small they indicate the range of lobbying targets pursued by groups such as the NRA, which spent $8.5m before the last election on television ads and telephone drives. Far more money is spent on negative attack ads against politicians seen as weak on gun rights, than in favour of supporters.
Analysis of so-called 'dark money', or undisclosed expenditure, by the Sunlight Foundation shows the NRA was behind at least five TV ad campaigns against gun control since Newtown, targeting key swing states such as Ohio.
The elegantly simple constitutional architecture of the Senate helped
, too. Still, the 90% of American support for background checks should have overrode these obstacles. Maybe, the nationwide polls were faulty
. No, data from 25 states, according to Mayors Against Illegal Guns
and Quinnipiac University, reveals a preponderance of support for background checks from constituents AND high ratings from the NRA.
But a majority of Americans do believe guns make homes safer. And, Americans buy the framing, that violence in the defense of violence is justified.