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New bipartisan bill would create federal alert system for active shooter situations

Posted at 9:53 AM, Feb 15, 2022

CLEVELAND — A new bipartisan bill would create a federal alert system for active shooter situations like the way an Amber Alert is issued for abducted and endangered children.

According to the FBI, active shooting situations have increased by over 1,200-percent between 2000 and 2020.

The FBI defines an active shooter as "an individual actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a populated area." Though they account for a small percentage of gun deaths, 333 active shooter incidents in the United States resulted in 2,851 deaths between 2000 and 2019, according to an FBI report released last year.

“In an active shooter situation law enforcement wants to contain an area, reduce the number of strange people around, get to neutralize the shooter,” said Ken Trump, a national school safety consultant.

Trump said the bill is well-intended, but not necessarily thought through.

“We don’t want outsiders coming from outside of the school’s community responding to a notice of a school shooting when they have no purpose there and add to the congestion, the distraction, the deterrence of law enforcement to focus on the real threat,” Trump said.

The Active Shooter Act would help sound the alarm when incidents occur so people nearby in an active shooter situation would be sent up-to-date information to their phones.

The mechanics of the alert system are not spelled out in the legislation, but a coordinator from the Department of Justice would be responsible for determining best practices.

“Active shooter situations unfold in a matter of notice," Trump said. "More likely than not, an amber type of alert is going to have certain criteria to be met before it goes out and the active shooter scenario will be long over by the time that criteria is screened and the message is actually pushed out.”

Similar alert systems have been established in Michigan, Rhode Island, and Texas. The new legislation would provide a more uniform, national approach.

“Most schools in the country already have local mass notification systems where they can push messages to parents and members of the immediate school community,” Trump said.

The FBI reports there have been 333 active shooter incidents across the United States in the last 20 years resulting in 2,851 deaths.

The bill could be up for a vote in the House during police week in May that runs from May 15 through May 21.

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