By: John Zogby Contributor

I wrote last week about the fact that the Newtown incident is a defining moment that requires reflection, action, and sacrifice. Just yesterday, the Senate rejected the very mild Manchin-Toomey compromise that would have add background checks to gun shows and internet sales, but not to private and family transfers. This is a very mild reform and no one has really been able to show how it infringes upon anyone's rights. The only arguments actually revolve around a sort of domino theory: i.e. this step will lead to a national gun registry, which will lead to… which will lead to…

When I renew my driver's license I have to take an eye exam and pass it. My success or failure to see is recorded somewhere. A document that states that I am legally blind or that I need corrective lenses in order to operate a motor vehicle is certainly a violation of my rights - though I am not sure which amendment - but beneficial to my community. It is a tradeoff we make for the community good. So too is the statement I need to sign that I have been treated for heart ailments. I don't necessarily want people to know that but I guess they should be aware that if I have a massive coronary attack and jump a highway median, that it wasn't the open container of Chavas Regal in the brown paper bag next to me. Talk of a denial of rights. You mean I can't drink and drive after a hard day annoying people with my polls? I can't drive a motorcycle at 90 miles an hour without a helmet? What else do we pay public works employees to do except pick up pieces of bloody brains and craniums?

Gun owners have rights. Not too long ago, smokers did, too. There is a higher calling, a public good. Automobiles can kill people. Motorcycles can kill people. Driving too fast on a motorcycle (and without a helmet) can cause insurance and taxes to go up. Littering is an expression of free speech. Dumping my trash on an open field at midnight is a convenience and saves me money.

This is absurd. Have your guns and have your fun. But guns can kill people. Some actually do. Call me old-fashioned, but I want to help law enforcement find a perpetrator as quickly as possible. This appears to me to help law abiding gun owners, not hurt them.

What about the politics of this vote in the Senate? A very good editor in Washington in DC asked me this morning if the failure to pass background checks represents a failure for Barack Obama and a permanent loss of his political mojo. I think not. With Congress' rating at 14%, with 90% of likely voters supporting background checks, with the images of the Newtown families and the intensity of support for gun control now matching that of guns rights advocates, a more popular President now has a solid wedge issue to carry him into the 2014 congressional elections. Not only does the President have 90% support on this, he also has solid and intense sentiment for background checks and action among his key base constituencies. I have used this metaphor before: the GOP can "win" in the short term by playing defense, but when the public demands action, as they do now, they are going to have to figure out to put the ball into the hoop.