Congress must and can pass gun control legislation

Once again, a terrorist strikes at the heart of an American community. This

time the images of horror come from inside an Orlando nightclub, but we know it could happen anywhere at anytime. Attacks like Orlando and San Bernardino, once unthinkable, now follow a familiar pattern.

Congress should act to protect Americans from gun violence and terrorism. Despite party disagreements on the perfect solutions, we are elected to make tough choices and keep Americans safe. I partnered with Sen. Dianne Feinstein, a Democrat from California, on No Fly-No Buy, a bill to block suspected terrorists from buying weapons. Omar Mateen was removed from the terror watch list, so we made sure this legislation mandated that the FBI be notified when any individual who has been investigated for terrorism in the past five years attempts to purchase guns or explosives.

I'm disappointed Sen. Feinstein's legislation wasn't able to pass, but the most recent bipartisan compromise by Sen. Susan Collins, a Maine Republican, is our best hope to get something done to protect Americans.

The Collins compromise blocks firearms sales to individuals on the No Fly List and the Selectee List and would require that federal, state, and local law enforcement be notified if an individual who is on a watch list, or has been on a watch list in the previous five years, as Omar Mateen was, attempts to purchase a firearm.

This bipartisan compromise can pass the Senate and the House of Representatives. These are common sense measures to protect Americans.

The horror of gun violence is robbing us of an entire generation. Chicago knows this pain too well, with over 50 shootings last weekend alone. Without reform, loopholes and gun trafficking continue to fuel Chicago gangs. My bill with Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, a Democrat from New York, would confront the flow of illegal guns used in gang shootings in Chicago by making gun trafficking a federal crime and providing law enforcement with the tools to get illegal guns off the streets and out of the hands of dangerous drug gangs.

The bill would directly affect Chicago where 60 percent of the guns used in crimes come from states with weaker gun laws such as Indiana, Wisconsin and Missouri.

Keeping Americans safe is my paramount responsibility as U.S. Senator for Illinois and the reason Washington needs to find solutions that save lives.

U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk is a Republican from Highland Park.

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