House passes bill to create alert system for active shooters

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House passes bill to create alert system for active shooters

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House passes bill to create alert system for active shooters

Rep. David Cicilline, D-R.I., says the current system law enforcement uses to notify people near active-shooter incidents is “terribly inefficient and dangerous.” Photo by US Senate/UPI | License Photo

July 14 (UPI) — The U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday passed a bipartisan bill to create a nationwide alert system to be used in active-shooter incidents.

Passed on a 260-169 vote, the Active Shooter Alert Act would establish a network similar to Amber alerts to notify the public when a shooter is nearby.

“During active shooter events, law enforcement officers are having to take to social media to communicate with the surrounding community so that no one accidentally walks into the line of fire,” said Rep. David Cicilline, D-R.I., who co-sponsored the bill, in a statement.

“This is terribly inefficient and dangerous,” Cicilline added. “Law enforcement needs and deserves better tools than Twitter to communicate with the community and the Active Shooter Alert Act answers that call.”

Rep. Fred Upton, R-M.I., said he co-sponsored the bill because it has nationwide support from law enforcement officials and organizations.

“By alerting the public to an ongoing active shooter threat, we can help folks avoid the area and better enable police and first responders to focus on ending the situation and saving lives,” Upon said.

The bill, which had previously failed on a 259-162 vote on June 22, now heads to the Senate. It comes on the heels of a series of high-profile mass shootings that have left communities around the country reeling — including Uvalde, Texas, Buffalo, N.Y., and Highland Park, Ill.

Cicilline and Upton introduced the bill in hopes the new alert system could prevent further tragedy in the wake of active-shooting incidents.

“The new alert system established under the Active Shooter Alert Act could be deployed during emergency situations like that recently seen in Highland Park, Ill., when the suspected shooter was at large for 8 hours — providing him the time to drive to Wisconsin and contemplate carrying out another mass shooting,” the lawmakers said in a joint statement.

“It could also be used in a situation like we saw in April 2022, when a perpetrator was at large for 29 hours after shooting civilians in a Brooklyn, N.Y. subway station,” they added.

On June 25, President Joe Biden signed into law bipartisan legislation to fight gun violence.

The $13 billion Bipartisan Safer Communities Act provides funds for initiatives in mental health, school safety and crisis-intervention programs. The law also tweaks some loopholes in background processing and pushes for the creation of state red-flag laws.

Yet to some, the bills are not enough.

“If there is one question that should be on the forefront of law enforcement minds, what if the gunman never had access to an assault weapon?” Kimberly Rubio, whose 10 year-old daughter was killed in the Uvalde shooting, told USA Today.

On Wednesday, Rubio marched alongside hundreds of other survivors and families shattered by gun violence — as they demanded stronger action from lawmakers.

“I am unwilling to let what happened to my family, to my babies, on one of the most celebrated national holidays, a day that represents freedom, be another thought and prayer,” said Abby Brosio, who survived the Fourth of July shooting in Highland Park.

“I hope you’re uncomfortable,” she added. “Change is uncomfortable. Let’s begin.”