Bipartisan bill would create federal alert system for active shooter incidents

A bill that was proposed this week would create a federal alert system for active shooter scenarios, which have increased sharply by over 1200 percent between 2000 and 2020.

An active shooter is defined by the FBI as “an individual actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a populated area.”

Active shooting incidents account for a minute percentage of gun deaths in the United States, but 333 active shooter events have resulted in 2,851 deaths from 2000 and 2019 as noted in an FBI report that was released last year.

Just this past Tuesday, there were active shooters at Bridgewater College in Virginia, where two officers were shot and killed, and at South Education Center in Minnesota, where one student was killed, and another was left in critical condition as a result. 

The bill that was proposed in the House on the same day as those incidents would give a faster alarm when those types of events occur so that people in the surrounding area would have up-to-date information right on their phones.

Reps. Fred Upton, a Republican from Michigan, and David Cicilline, a Democrat from Rhode Island, were the ones to propose the bill, which is aimed at improving how quickly law enforcement officers are able to get out information during active shooter situations.

The bill is modeled after the AMBER Alert system, which is a public alert set off when a child is endangered or abducted. The specifics of the alert system are not laid out in the legislation, but personnel from the Department of Justice would be in charge of determining best practices.

“It’s really about protecting law enforcement, protecting communities from gun violence, making sure that people have accurate and instantaneous information when there’s an active shooting to save lives,” Cicilline said. “I think it’s fair to say that when we pass this bill out of the House, there will be significant bipartisan support. We have been in discussions with both Democrats and Republicans.” 




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