What if the mass shooting that took place at an Orlando night club, killing 49 and wounding 53, had taken place on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives? What if instead of having 49 anonymous partyers lying dead we had 49 members of Congress in the morgue? Would the reaction from officials in Washington have been any different? Would we still have a Florida congressman stating that it was too early after the massacre to make any judgments? I really doubt it.

The "too early" line is right out of the NRA's post-mass shooting playbook. Their tactics are to put a moratorium on the national conversation out of so-called respect for the dead and their families; not let anyone "politicize" the tragic event by talking about gun control; and to promise that there will be a proper time for that discussion. The only problem is that when the topic is again broached, gun control advocates are told this is old news and they should move on. Hence, nothing ever gets done.


As far as any gun massacre hitting the Capitol, that would be almost impossible, given the metal detectors at the doors and the security guards. You see, House and Senate members, as well as those who represent us at the state level, are pretty adept at protecting themselves from a crazy person with an AR-15 type rifle, while the rest of us are told to take our chances. And those chances grow bleaker every day as more and more towns, cities and states pass NRA-inspired laws to allow firearms in churches, schools and stores but not, of course, in government buildings.

According to the ATF, Omar Mateen legally purchased the AR-15 about a week before the shooting. This is despite the fact that he was twice questioned by the FBI in 2013 for suspected terrorist ties, and again in 2014. Remember that suspected terrorists on the government's no-fly list can be prevented from boarding flights but not from buying firearms. This bizarre situation is courtesy of 54 senators; all but one were Republicans. They received $37 million in "donations" from the NRA to block passage of the "Denying Firearms and Explosives to Dangerous Terrorists Act" last November. What could go wrong? It is estimated that 2,000 terror suspects have bought guns legally in the U.S., with Mateen recently joining their growing ranks.

Months after the 2012 Newtown shooting that claimed 20 children and six adults, the Senate attempted to pass a measure expanding background checks on firearm purchases. The amendment had the support of 90 percent of Americans, but 49 senators, all but one Republican, used a filibuster to block passage. They walked away with $27 million in "donations." Can you say, "blood money?"

After last Sunday's mass slaying, Connecticut Sen. Chris Murphy, a Democrat, asserted, "This phenomenon of near constant mass shootings happens only in America — nowhere else. Congress has become complicit in these murders by its total, unconscionable deafening silence." Murphy represents the constituents of Newtown's Sandy Hook Elementary. The "long gun" used there is the same type of weapon used in Orlando, in last December's San Bernardino attack (14 killed, 22 injured) and in 2012 in a Colorado theater (12 killed, 70 injured).

Battlefield weapons have no place in civilian society. They were banned in 1994 but Congress, in its warped wisdom, allowed the ban to expire in 2004. Ask yourself, has the country become any safer since then?

Locally, Republican state Sen. Justin Ready sent out an April letter to constituents bragging about his role in blocking a law that would have prohibited the Maryland State Police from issuing gun permits to persons on the FBI's Terrorist Watch list. The specious reasons? He feared the law might allow terrorists to find out if they're on the list or not and errors might occur with adding names to the list. Ready also blocked a law that would have prohibited carrying or possessing firearms on college campuses. Senator, if you aren't part of the solution … .

I suspect that gun control will now become a major issue in the 2016 election. We all need to support candidates who work for us and not the NRA's lobbyists. Otherwise, we could join the sad litany of towns synonymous with mass shootings: Orlando. Charleston. San Bernardino. Aurora. Newtown. Coming soon to a community near you?

Frank Batavick writes from Westminster. His column appears Fridays. Email him at fjbatavick@gmail.com.