The dynamic of the gun control debate has been static for years.  A mass shooting occurs. Talk begins that perhaps this is the moment some elements of gun control could pass Congress. As the days pass from the tragedy, political will rapidly ebbs and, almost always, nothing happens. But, according to Jim Kessler, a longtime gun control advocate who is now at the centrist think tank Third Way, the largest mass shooting in American history over the weekend in Orlando will actually change things. I reached out to Kessler to get him to explain why. Our conversation -- conducted via phone and lightly edited for length and clarity, is below.

FIX: You say this time is different. But we heard members of the gun control community say that after Newtown and after Aurora and after San Bernardino. 

Kessler: The difficulty in passing gun laws is that gun ownership is so diffuse and gun crimes are so concentrated in America. Not only are they concentrated in a finite number of cities, but even in certain neighborhoods. And so the argument that we need gun laws to make people safer in a neighborhood that they already consider safe is a hard sell.

Now, you have a crime in areas that people consider safe from gun violence. And now you have people who are enemies of America who want to kill as many people as possible getting guns, and it could happen anywhere.

FIX: A counter point here: Weren't people's sense of safety shattered after massacres like Columbine, which happened almost two decades ago? Since then Congress has passed exactly zero gun control laws.

Kessler: Actually, Columbine was the moment the debate turned. Closing the gun show loophole came within inches of passing.

And then after Sandy Hook, we got 55 votes in the Senate on background checks (though I still think it would have been difficult to pass in the House). Every shooting galvanized debate, there was a real discussion, there was legislation. It was bipartisan. Things moved. You didn't get to the finish line, but things were happening.

FIX: And is there a common factor in all those moments that helped propel debate forward?

Kessler: The common factor in each of those cases was arguably crazy people -- which can happen anywhere too.

Now we have the Orlando and San Bernardino killings, which is the self-recruitment of a lone wolf terrorist who uses the easy availability of arms to wage war on America. And it doesn't necessarily require for someone to be insane the way the Sandy Hook shooter was.

I'm surprised it took this long, frankly. After 9/11, my feeling was 'Boy, if terrorists ever figure out how easy it is to buy guns in this country, the terror will be in shopping malls and in churches and in baseball stadiums and subways, etc.' And now they've figured that out.

THE FIX: Could that explain why, after Orlando, gun control groups are focusing on one bill in particular: Preventing people on the FBI's various terrorist watch lists from getting guns? Editor's note: The shooter was on, then dropped, from a terrorist watch list and legally able to buy guns. A similar proposal failed in the Senate in December after San Bernardino

KESSLER: Let's turn it around for a second and let's say you're in the Republican caucus, and you decide: Let's just make sure we say 'No gun laws could possibly have worked [to stop Orlando].'

Well, a gun law clearly could have worked: A person who is on a terrorist watch list goes to buy a gun and is denied by the FBI. Boy, that's actionable. Does it mean we're going to pass a law through a law through a Republican Senate and a Republican House? I don't know. But that might be more of a factor of who the elected officials are right now.

FIX: Republicans argue the root cause of the situation we find ourselves in is President Obama's failure to successfully clamp down on terrorism abroad: 

Kessler: I just think every year or two -- like climate change -- we're breaking the record for worst mass shooting in America. My guess is this record will last less than three years.

And [for Republicans] to say: Well, okay, the solution is we have to increase our air strikes in Syria, when people are born in the United States and committing homegrown terrorists attacks -- I'm not sure that quite works.

We're at the intersection of the Second Amendment and extremist terrorist action. And I don't think it's in anyway impossible to respect Second Amendment rights and to do more to keep terrorists from getting firearms in America.