After President Biden signed a major gun control bill last month, House Democrats are eager to keep the momentum going. On Wednesday, the House approved a bill setting up an Amber Alert-esque system broadly intended to notify citizens of nearby shootings by a vote of 260-169. All but one Democrat supported the act, while most Republican members voted against it.
Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) was among the bill’s opponents, arguing on the House floor that the alert system was a fear-mongering tactic that might even be counterproductive to public safety.
“Imagine you’re at a concert with 5,000 people, and everyone gets an alert on their phone: ‘Active Shooter,' because six blocks away, there was a gunfire that went off - maybe an accident, maybe a tragedy,” Gaetz said. "Would that make the circumstance safer? Of course not! It would lead to stampede, tragedy, hysteria, mistake, perhaps even more death.”
“This bill is like yelling, ‘fire,’ in a crowded theater, except the fire is in another movie theater across the street,” the conservative firebrand argued.
Gaetz also pointed out the lack of any specific distance or location requirements in the bill, and a lack of detail on who might be considered an “active shooter.”
"If you live in or near Democrat-run cities, it sounds like your phone will likely be buzzing off the hook,” Gaetz claimed.
The congressman concluded his speech by questioning the “true purpose” of such a bill.
The answer, Gaetz argued, is instilling fear in the American public:
Why do the Democrats want to use the power of government to bombard your cell phone with active shooter alerts 24 hours a day, seven days a week? It’s because they want you to be afraid of the Second Amendment. It’s because they want you to be afraid of responsible gun ownership, and they hope that if they program you and bombard you long enough, that you’ll hate your own Second Amendment rights, or that you may tattle on your neighbor, who is lawfully and rightfully exercising theirs.
In spite of Gaetz’s passionate testimony, several Republicans, including the bill’s co-sponsor, Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.), gave the bill their backing. Only retiring Democratic Rep. Ron Kind (D-Wis.) defected from the Democratic party line over concerns of “more chaos.”
The Active Shooter Alert Act will now advance to the Senate, where it will require 60 votes for the bill to reach President Biden’s desk. The odds that the act reaches this threshold, the New York Post reported, are small.