GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — U.S. Rep. Fred Upton, R-St. Joseph, is pushing a new bill that aims to stop gun violence from taking more lives.
The Active Shooter Alert Act, introduced by Upton this month, is meant to help law enforcement warn people if an active shooter is nearby.
“It removes people as targets of active shooters,” Upton told News 8 Tuesday. “It’s another tool in the toolbox.”
It would work like an Amber Alert, flashing a message on people’s cellphones if an active shooter is nearby.
“It’s instantaneous,” Upton said. “It’s something that literally all of us have in our pocket.”
Upton told News 8 that $2 million would create a special job within the U.S. Department of Justice dedicated toward making alerts a reality.
“There’s not a lot of cost in this,” he said. “In essence, it’s $2 million. That’s not even a traffic highway study or red light study in a major intersection.”
The coordinator in the Justice Department would help law enforcement agencies nationwide establish active shooter alert systems and provide training and technical support to make sure such systems are effective.
In a recent address on the U.S. House floor, Upton brought up the February 2016 shooting spree in the Kalamazoo area that killed six people and seriously injured two others.
“No alert system was sent,” Upton told his House colleagues. “And I believe if this legislation had been in place then, it may have saved some of the folks that were killed that night.”
“They might have survived if they had a phone alert,” Upton told News 8 on Tuesday. “It would’ve been on. It would’ve said (get) out of here.”
Law enforcement groups are supporting the move, including the National Sheriff’s Association and the National Association of Police Organizations.
Gun Owners of America is against the bill. In a statement posted on its website, the group called it an “anti-gun propaganda program” and said the active shooter alerts would create “mass hysteria.”
“H.R. 6538, the Active Shooter Alert Act of 2022, is not a public safety tool, but rather an anti-gun propaganda program intended to further public hysteria by hyper-inflating the authentic number of ‘active shooter’ incidents to expand support for unconstitutional gun control measures,” the group said in the statement.
“It does nothing to threaten the legal use of any gun,” Upton said in response. “It only protects humans that may in fact be a target.”
The Active Shooter Alert Act passed the House last week. Forty-three House Republicans joined nearly all Democrats in voting yes.
Next, the bill heads to the Senate, where it needs at least 60 votes to pass. That means several Republicans would have to join Democrats in saying yes. Upton said he’s putting pressure on his colleagues in the Senate to try to get the bill passed.
“It’s something that tragically now is almost a daily occurrence,” Upton said. “So why don’t we fight this, big time.”