Weeks of intense lobbying on Capitol Hill came to naught, as gun control advocates suffered a stinging defeat Thursday evening.
After the amendment to put in place near universal background checks failed, families from Newton, Conn., huddled together, hugging each other as tears streamed down their faces.
Erica Lafferty is the daughter of Dawn Hochsprung, the principal who was gunned down at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
"Next time there's a mass shooting, it's going to be on their hands," Lafferty says. "It will be on their hands, absolutely."
The blow is also being felt by families of the Virginia Tech massacre. Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) was governor then and says it's a shame that United States senators haven't spent more time looking into that incident.
"The lesson that clearly came out of the Tech shooting is the better the background check system, the safer you are," Kaine says.
But lawmakers who helped defeat the stricter gun proposals are cheering. Rep. Morgan Griffith (R-Va.) says the debate on Capitol Hill has been skewed ever since the shooting in Connecticut. He says instead of the Second Amendment, lawmakers should be debating mental health.
"That's really where I think the debate ought to focus, is on those individuals with a severe mental illness who are inclined towards violent acts," Griffith says.
Advocates for gun control say they aren't giving up the fight, and that means guns could play a key role in the 2014 midterm election.