There are, perhaps, clues in the poll itself, which suggests that the forces against the bill were more motivated than those supporting the bill. Americans might also have come to the conclusion that the bill wouldn't do much.
But the real takeaway, some say, is that the gun control debate played into the broader narrative of America's enduring libertarian streak. As with the legalization of marijuana, the spread of same-sex marriage, and the fresh possibility of comprehensive immigration reform, the common thread is that, in many cases, Americans are loath to tell their neighbors what to do.
“Americans do have a certain live-and-let-live attitude, and guns are a good illustration,” says Robert Spitzer, author of “The Politics of Gun Control.” “That’s why you’ve never gotten a majority of Americans who favor an outright ban on handguns. That’s not because most Americans own guns, or even handguns, but there is a certain attitude that, ‘Look, I’m not a gun owner, I don’t like guns around, but if someone else wants to own a gun, I’m not going to insist that ought to be somehow restricted.’ There’s sympathy for that brand of libertarianism in American politics; it’s not real libertarianism, it’s libertarian lite.”
Others suggest that the lack of outrage supports Mr. Obama's assertion that the gun lobby lied to Americans about the bill.