Cicilline’s Active Shooter Alert Act Headed to House Floor

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, the House Committee on the Judiciary voted to approve the Active Shooter Alert Act, legislation sponsored by Congressman David N. Cicilline (RI-01) to create an AMBER Alert like system for active shooter situations.
 
During Committee debate, Congressman Cicilline spoke on the need for this legislation and its widespread support among law enforcement organizations.

A transcript of the Congressman’s remarks is below and you can see a full list of cosponsors here.
 Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I want to thank you for bringing this bill to markup today.
 And I want to particularly thank the 16 Republican cosponsors – the original cosponsors – and the 15 Democratic cosponsors. That is, Representative Upton – I’m going to list the Republicans by name. I think the Democrats you know.
 Representative Spartz of this Committee, Representative Meijer from Michigan, Representative Mace, Representative Don Bacon, Representative Andrew Garbarino, Representative Jay Obernolte, Representative Jeff Van Drew, Representative Brian Fitzpatrick, Representative Jon Carter, Representative Rice, Representative McCaul, Representative Armstrong, Representative McKinley, and Representative Letlow.
 And I want to thank them for being original cosponsors as well as my Democratic colleagues.
 I’ve been working on this bipartisan public safety legislation with Congressman Upton for many months to answer the calls of law enforcement for a more robust, reliable, and efficient alert system for use during active shooter situations.
 More than anyone, law enforcement understands the strain an active shooter puts on a community in an ongoing crisis.
 Between 2000 and 2020, there were close to 400 active shooter events, including 40 active shooter incidents in 2020 alone.
 In 2016, in Congressman Upton’s backyard, we saw a Michigan Uber driver go on a shooting rampage and then continue picking up passengers. In 2019, a shooter drove around a community in Texas killing 7 and wounding 25 people. And in 2021, a shooter traveled about 30 miles murdering 8 people at various Atlanta-area spas. And just this past April, a shooter attacked a subway station full of people in Brooklyn and was on the run for 24 hours before police finally detained him.
 And in the last six weeks alone, we have seen active shooters make national headlines – murdering and wounding people in Buffalo, NY; Sacramento, CA; Uvalde, Texas, and right here in Washington, DC.
 Active shooter events have become ubiquitous – so frequent that some of these horrific events barely make headlines. This is not normal, and we cannot let it be normalized. We cannot become numb to these events, and we cannot settle for the status quo. We have to give law enforcement every tool they need to neutralize these threats and keep our communities safe.
 In these stressful life-or-death situations, law enforcement are – in too many cases – relying on social media to communicate with the surrounding community so that no one accidentally walks into the line of fire or a crime scene.
 Law enforcement needs and deserves better tools than Twitter to communicate with the community.
 The Active Shooter Alert [Act] creates an AMBER Alert-like program for active shooter events. This bill will provide law enforcement with cutting-edge technology to send notifications to our smartphones and let communities know if there is an active shooter in a certain area – so that they know to stay away.
 Developing this kind of technology and infrastructure, and identifying best practices, would be a massive undertaking for any local department, and some communities simply don’t have the resources to do it on their own.
 However, we already have these resources at the federal level and this legislation simply gives every law enforcement agency across the country access to the federal alert system so they can send alerts in their area. It also provides law enforcement with access to expert-developed best practices and protocols for sending out these alerts.
 As we saw multiple times last month, when there is an active shooter situation, law enforcement does all they can to keep people in the surrounding area safe, including going person-to-person to either evacuate or tell people to shelter in place. But that takes time – time that could cost lives.
 This type of alert system we are talking about today would be far more efficient and can also provide updates to the community that are otherwise impossible to communicate in the midst of an active threat.
 I am proud that this bill has earned the support of law enforcement organizations across the country at the national, state, and local levels –and the Chairman read them. And so, when my friend Mr. Biggs said ‘we need to help law enforcement’ – law enforcement is begging for this. It was the number one priority during Police Week. That’s why it’s endorsed by all these law enforcement organizations.
 It also doesn’t give any concentrated power to the Department of Justice – it’s a voluntary program. If you don’t want to use it, you don’t have to. It’s a gigantic success with AMBER Alert, with Silver Alert – it’s the same thing for active shooters.
 It will save people’s lives.
 If you don’t like it, you don’t have to use it. It’s a voluntary program.
 So, I urge my colleagues to support this bipartisan bill that has earned the support of the National Sheriffs’ Association, the Major Cities Chiefs Association, the National FOP, the National Police Foundation, the National District Attorneys Association.
 I know that it has my name on it, but it’s cosponsored by 16 Republicans and cosponsored by 15 Democrats. It’s a bipartisan bill. Look beyond the politics, do something that will help save lives, that will protect law enforcement, and vote for this very commonsense bill.
 And I thank you, Mr. Chairman, and I yield back.
 

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