No one can argue with the NRA's success. In fact, the NRA has been so successful that it presses its agenda forward to guarantee the right of individuals to carry guns wherever and whenever; deploying laser-like focus against any political candidate who challenges its conventional, conservative wisdom.
Who is harmed by a ban against assault rifles? I have no idea.
Would a ban be effective, given the sheer volume of guns in society today? Perhaps. Perhaps not. That's not really the point.
Banning assault rifles would express a cultural value that should be common sense and even cross the political divide reinforced by deep-pocketed corporate interests.
But it doesn't. President Obama does have the chance to speak in favor of a ban, when he delivers a speech to the saddened nation and grieving communities and families in Connecticut this week. Let the American public see how Congress organizes to repel this common sense measure, even as the ideologues harangue at the edge of the so-called "fiscal cliff".
As far as the NRA is concerned, there is nowhere to go from here. You won everywhere else. You won and still can't articulate why deaths from guns are exponentially higher in the United States than any other civilized nation. The deeper truths go unexplored.
In the meantime, Americans persuaded to fork over donations to conservative groups that champion individual and Constitutional rights need to accept: the expansion of government authority -- presided over by Republican and Democratic Congresses and administrations -- make it certain that ownership of any weapon cannot protect the individual against the power of government.
Proud as we may be for the Second Amendment, its effect has crumbled under the force of technologies unimaginable to the Founding Fathers. Owning an assault weapon doesn't allow us to "keep up" with anything. It only fosters a cultural milieu in which mass killings are a sad probability.
Much better for Congress to pass a ban on assault weapons and let Americans ponder what candidates are likely to deal in a common sense way with even greater probabilities and threats than those pushed forward by conservatives to advance the last war: the culture war.