America's heartfelt desire to "do something" following the Sandy Hook massacre led us to a debate about gun control in this country.
That likely peaked (for now at least) on the Senate floor Wednesday with the defeat of the Manchin-Toomey Amendment.
Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., was central to the fracas, taking the lead on legislation that would have expanded background checks for gun purchases to include non-licensed sellers.
It was, in fact, a modest proposal, and one that, if nothing else, would have brought some consistency to gun purchasing rules.
I have no doubt Manchin is sincere. He tends to wear his heart on his sleeve, and he was deeply moved by the tragedy in Newtown.
Also, Man-chin is, at his core, a salesman. He is energized by the challenge of doing the difficult deal.
He came close - the amendment failed 54-46 on a cloture vote where 60 votes were needed - and he pledges to try again.
"The fight's not over," Manchin told me on MetroNews Talkline Thursday.
Manchin's efforts earned him high praise from some on the left.
The senator has become a favorite on the Morning Joe program on MSNBC, where the hosts called him heroic for taking on the NRA. President Obama praised Manchin and Toomey for their efforts to pass a gun bill.
One reason Manchin emerged as a player in the debate is that the gun control advocates were particularly inept following Newtown. It took four months after the second worst mass murder in the country's history to even get a watered-down bill to the Senate floor.