The gun lobby is a combination of forces that includes manufacturers, hunters and hobbyists, political opportunists, and a fanatically active faction that believes guns are needed to fight off the conquest of freedom by the government.

That faction is represented by the group Gun Owners of America, which has spent the months since Newtown doing tremendous damage, insisting that expanded background checks will lead to a gun registry that will assist a secret plan by the president to seize every firearm.

This is the group that said the blood of Newtown was on the hands of lawmakers who create gun-free zones around schools. Its executive director, Larry Pratt, considers the United States government to be largely unconstitutional, and says that gun rights come directly from God.

“When we’re talking about firearms,” he said in 2010, “we’re not really talking about a right but an obligation, as creatures of God, to protect the life that was given them.”

And yet this twisted radicalism is playing an outsized role in the current debate.