What explains the National Rifle Association's effectiveness in blocking gun-control legislation? That question has long plagued Democratic politicians and anti-gun activists. It reemerged after the Newtown massacre and will become more salient in late January, when President Obama unveils proposals he's ordered up from Vice President Biden's gun-control task force.
The answers are shockingly prosaic: The NRA wins because it's popular with a broad swath of Americans, especially Republicans. It knows how to muscle politicians with perfectly legal, out-in-the-open, grass-roots campaigns.