If you want to know why Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s assault weapons ban couldn’t muster 40 votes — that’s according to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who says he will cut the ban from the Democrats’ gun bill — attend a National Rifle Association event in Feinstein’s backyard. Though critics like to paint the organization as an out-of-touch haven for angry old white guys, Sunday’s NRA “Fun Shoot” at the San Leandro Rifle & Pistol Range was anything but.

I attended a safety and shooting lesson for 12. Half of the group was female — and white, black and Asian. Four teens showed up with their parents.

Months ago, it was clear that Feinstein’s assault weapons ban had little chance of making it through the Democratic-run Senate, let alone the GOP House. Nonetheless, gun control enthusiasts pushed the measure in the dubious belief that the awful Newtown, Conn., shootings would make an assault weapons ban more palatable. But it is doomed. Meanwhile, these efforts have driven some law-abiding Americans into the loving arms of the NRA.

There’s a culture clash at play here between people who want to take control of their self-protection and those who want to leave it to the government. “We are our own first responders,” NRA instructor Bill Hodges announced as he drilled participants on gun safety.