Active Shooter Alert Act passes House; why 168 Republicans and one Dem voted against it

A bill aimed at establishing an active shooter alert system similar to Amber Alerts passed the House of Representatives Wednesday night, despite the 168 Republicans and one Democrat who voted against it.

Sponsored by Reps. David Cicilline (D-R.I.) and Fred Upton (R-Mich.), the Active Shooter Alert Act would require “a designated officer of the Department of Justice to act as the national coordinator of an Active Shooter Alert Communications Network regarding an emergency involving an active shooter,” according to Congress.gov. “The bill sets forth duties of the coordinator, including to work with state, tribal, and local governments to encourage coordination of various elements of the network. The coordinator must also encourage federal, state, local, and tribal government agencies to establish procedures for responding to active shooters.”

Furthermore, H.R. 6538 “requires the Government Accountability Office to study and report on state and local responses to active shooters and situations requiring the issuance of a public alert or warning.”

Prior to the vote, Cicilline stated in the House chamber, “Active shooter emergencies have become so common that we barely even register them anymore, we’ve become numb to them. We cannot let this become normal.”

Upton called it “another essential tool in the toolbox for our law enforcement that will keep our communities and families safe.”

 

But according to Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), who noted that “this exact bill” failed “with bipartisan opposition” three weeks ago, the bill amounts to little more than liberal “fear-mongering.”

“The Active Shooter Alert Act is an unnecessary gimmick to cede more authority to the already highly politicized Biden Department of Justice,” he argued on the House floor prior to the vote. “States already utilize emergency alert systems to warn the public about natural and human-made disasters, extreme weather events, and other emergencies. Federal state and local officials already use the Integrated Public Alert warning system — IPOS — to send emergency alerts to mobile devices and to media platforms.”

“According to a 2020 report from the accountability office,” he continued, “every state has at least one alerting authority, and there were more than 1,400 alerting authorities across the country. If the states are already using an alerting system to notify the public about threats, what is this bill really doing?”

“This bill is creating a new federal job at the Biden Justice Department to encourage state and local governments to issue public alerts anytime a firearm is used anywhere,” he said. “Don’t take my word for it. During the markup, Congressman Jones said this: ‘This bill would be most effective in reminding us that the threat of gun violence exists all around us, but it does little to actually protect us from it.”

“That’s right,” Jordan stated. “This bill is about Democrat fear-mongering that guns are an ever-present threat, and we cannot be safe until Big Government rounds up every last one of them.”

(Video: YouTube)

“Maybe someone should have sent an active shooter alert to the police in Uvalde,” suggested Rep. Matt Gaetz ( R-Fla.). “Oh wait! They had the alert. They were in a school building with an active shooter and didn’t take action.”

For those at a crowded public event, an active shooter alert received on mobile devices about the potential discharge of a firearm blocks away “would lead to stampede, tragedy, hysteria, mistakes, perhaps even more death,” he argued. “This bill is like yelling ‘fire’ in a movie theater, except the fire is in another movie theater across the street.”

“If you live in or near Democrat-run cities,” he said, “it sounds like your phone will likely be buzzing off the hook.”

Despite the commonsense opposition to what is being hailed as a “commonsense” gun safety measure, H.R. 6538  passed the House with the help of such Republicans as Reps. Liz Cheney (Wyo.), Mayra Flores (Texas), Adam Kinzinger (Ill.), and Nancy Mace (S.C.).

The legislation now heads to the Senate, where it will need 60 votes to advance to the floor for debate.

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