Bill introduced to create “active shooter” alert system

AP Photo/Matt Rourke

The threat of active shooters is real in 2022. While these occurrences are rare, they’re negatively impactful. Often called “mass shootings” there’s actually no classification in our FBI crime definitions that refers to “mass shooting”, but rather to “active shooters”. The 2020 FBI report on Active Shooters notes:

U.S. federal government agencies define an active shooter as “an individual actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a confined and populated area.” The FBI expands this definition to include more than one individual in an incident and omits the word confined as the term excludes incidents that occurred outside buildings.

The scope of said threats can be narrow, as in a workplace violence event, or large, like the Vegas shooting. To help combat the creation of more casualties and to mitigate confusion a bill was recently introduced to create a federal active shooter alert system. The system’s going to be akin to ones we’re all familiar with, the Amber Alert or even Silver Alert Systems. 

In a press release Congressmen David N. Cicilline from Rhode Island announced his bipartisan proposal.

Congressmen David N. Cicilline (RI-01) and Fred Upton (MI-06) today are introducing the Active Shooter Alert Act, bipartisan legislation to create a program similar to the AMBER Alert system for law enforcement to alert the public to active shooters in their community.

Active shooter incidents put a huge strain on our law enforcement officials. Among the many challenges facing law enforcement during these crises is preventing additional victims from unknowingly walking into the line of fire. Law enforcement and other independent review commissions have urged improvements in emergency communications systems.

The Active Shooter Alert Act would answer these calls by appointing an Active Shooter Alert Coordinator within in the DOJ. The Coordinator would offer federal training, technical support, and best practices to local and state law enforcement to effectively improve or implement active shooter alert systems. These resources would include guidance developed by subject matter experts, such as recommendations on making alerts in the vicinity of a shooter silent so the shooter is not alerted to those sheltered in place, or advice on what information is most effective to include in public alerts and how alerts should be sent. This program would be available for law enforcement to utilize on a voluntary basis to improve their system of letting civilians know to stay away and stay safe.

In addition to Cicilline, the bill currently has nine cosponsors: Rep. Upton, Fred [R-MI-6]*, Rep. Jackson Lee, Sheila [D-TX-18]*, Rep. Spartz, Victoria [R-IN-5]*, Rep. Thompson, Mike [D-CA-5]*, Rep. Meijer, Peter [R-MI-3]*, Rep. Deutch, Theodore E. [D-FL-22]*, Rep. Mace, Nancy [R-SC-1]*, Rep. Neguse, Joe [D-CO-2], and Rep. Bacon, Don [R-NE-2]

In the release Cicilline and Upton made some comments about the bill’s introduction.

“The Active Shooter Alert Act is a commonsense, straightforward solution that will help save lives,” said Congressman Cicilline. “Developing these types of alert programs is a significant undertaking that requires precise and intricate protocols, and some communities just simply do not have the resources or expertise for such a project. We have the federal infrastructure to provide this technology to every city and town across this country and it would be a shame not to do so.”

“As we have seen over the years, there is no place exempt from mass shootings. Whether it’s folks going to worship, kids at school, or, as we tragically saw here in 2016, a man driving an Uber right here in Kalamazoo murdered six people and wounded two more,” said Congressman Upton. “The Active Shooter Alert Act will give local authorities more tools to provide accurate real-time information to the community. I’ll continue to seek solutions by listening to local law enforcement, community leaders and our school officials. The stakes could not be higher.”

The Active Shooter Alert Act has drawn support from different law enforcement agencies including: National Sherriff’s Association, Major Cities Chiefs Associations, National Association of Police Organizations, Fraternal Order of Police (FOP), National Police Foundation, and National District Attorneys Association.

The bill text to H.R.6538 – Active Shooter Alert Act of 2022 can be read in full HERE.

It’s going to be interesting to see what kind of traction this measure receives. The subject of public notification is something that’s been explored more and more in the digital age. Different OEM offices in jurisdictions all over the country have SMS notifications concerning a multitude of emergent events. Let’s just hope that something like this does not fall subject to there being too much information available, therefore it all gets ignored. We’ll be watching this bill as it progresses. One note of commentary, it was great to read about a new measure being introduced concerning firearms that lacked commentary from screaming pinko commie mommies and the rest of the gun-grabbing anti-freedom caucus. It really is bipartisan.