Government / Politics

House passes Active Shooter Alert Act

Bill heads to the Senate floor.

This article was written by BenitoLink intern Marisa Sachau

A mass alert system could be headed our way to notify residents when active shooter situations are happening nearby. 

The Active Shooter Alert Act of 2022 passed on July 13 in the House of Representatives with a vote of 260-169. It was supported by 217 Democrats and 43 Republicans, and opposed by one Democrat and 168 Republicans. 20th District Congressman Jimmy Panetta is a co-sponsor of the bill, which now moves on to the Senate. 

According to the Gun Violence Archive, an independent data collection and research organization, there have been 339 mass shootings this year in the United States. 

In 2019, The Hollister School District Board of Trustees meeting went on lockdown following a report of an active shooter in the area. Hollister police later determined it was a hoax.

“I’m proud to continue our work in Congress to help prevent gun violence with the Active Shooter Alert Act,” said Panetta. “Once again, Democrats and Republicans in the House of Representatives came together and found common ground for common sense gun violence prevention with provisions and funding for local law enforcement agencies to keep residents informed during active shooter incidents. Although this bill would not stop every shooting, it is, again, a step in the right direction that our nation needs to help reduce gun violence and keep our communities safe.”

On the local level, Sgt. Weiss of the Hollister Police Department said he sees this potential law, if passed, as another tool they can use to better serve the community. Police Chief Carlos Reynoso said he believes it is too early to comment on a bill that has not passed yet, as it is still subject to change. Capt. Tom Keylon with the Sheriff’s Office did not comment on the bill and referred BenitoLink to dispatch. 

The bill was introduced in February, but voting did not take place until June 22 when it failed to pass and was sent back to committee for changes.

The bill would establish the nation’s first Active Shooter Alert Communications Network. “the Attorney General shall assign an officer of the Department of Justice to act as the national coordinator of the Active Shooter Alert Communications Network regarding an emergency involving an active shooter,” the bill states. 

The coordinator would be in charge of “encouraging” state, tribal and local governments and federal agencies to create a policy for responding to an active shooter situation for interjurisdictional areas such as airports or border checkpoints. This would be coordinated with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Secretary of Transportation, and the Federal Communications Commission for setting up a mass alert system similar to AMBER alerts. 

The alert system would be enacted to help notify individuals of an active shooter in their “immediate vicinity,” but the bill does not define the size of an area. If signed into law, every two years there will be reports given by states and the coordinator to Congress on the efficiency and effectiveness of this program. 

According to the bill, “the coordinator shall establish an advisory panel to make recommendations with respect to the establishments of best practices.” The panel would consist of at least nine members that include at least five law enforcement officers, one public safety officer who is not law enforcement but has responded to an active shooter, one emergency response officer, one city planning personnel, and one mental health professional. 

 

 

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Marisa Sachau