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Iowa's GOP delegation votes ‘no’ on active shooter alert system

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U.S. Rep. Ashley Hinson speaks during a town hall meeting at Tama Hall at Hawkeye Community College in Waterloo in February.

The U.S. House on Wednesday failed to pass a bill that would create a communications network that would alert people when an active shooter is in their community.

The bill failed to pass under a motion to suspend the rules, a process that allows legislation to be passed quickly with two-thirds support, despite bipartisan backing.

The bill failed, 259 to 162, with 161 Republicans and one Democrat — Ron Kind of Wisconsin — voting against, while 44 Republicans joined 215 Democrats in favor of the bill.

Among those Republicans who voted “nay” were U.S. Reps. Ashley Hinson, Mariannette Miller-Meeks and Randy Feenstra. Democrat U.S. Rep. Cindy Axne of West Des Moines voted in favor.

The bill would create an Amber Alert-style system for active shooter situations, according to the bill’s sponsors.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a statement Wednesday night the bill would be brought to a vote again and passed by the Democratic majority, The Hill reported. Pelosi also took aim at the GOP House members who “inexplicably” opposed the measure.

Hinson’s vote

Hinson, on her weekly conference call with Iowa reporters Thursday, said she thought the bill “moved too quickly and didn’t consider all of the impacts to a community about sending out an alert like that and what they can do to invite panic and also put burdens on our law enforcement (and) keep them from being able to do their job in an emergent situation.”

She said she intends to “continue to reach out to our local law enforcement on solutions.”

Hinson did not elaborate as how the bill would hinder law enforcement from responding to an active shooter situation.

Her office noted the Marion Republican co-sponsored the STOP II (Secure Every School and Protect our Nation’s Children Act) to fund school resource officers and mental health counselors, bolster school security, and establish a way for the federal government, schools and law enforcement to better communicate and provide training.

The Active Shooter Alert Act calls for the Department of Justice to appoint a national coordinator of the Active Shooter Alert Communications Network that would set up the alert system.

“The Active Shooter Alert Act is a common-sense, straightforward solution that will help save lives,” Democrat and bill sponsor David Cicilline of Rhode Island said in a statement.

“Developing these types of alert programs is a significant undertaking that requires precise and intricate protocols, and some communities just simply do not have the resources or expertise for such a project. We have the federal infrastructure to provide this technology to every city and town across this country, and it would be a shame not to do so.”

Gun bill

Federal lawmakers have faced increasing pressure to pass legislation related to gun safety in the wake of several recent mass shootings.

The U.S. Senate earlier this week voted to advance a bipartisan gun safety bill. The proposal would provide states with grants to enact so-called “red-flag” laws keeping guns out of the hands of people who are judged to be a threat to themselves and others.

It would expand background checks to cover juvenile records for gun buyers under 21 and would close the “boyfriend loophole” by banning gun purchases by people convicted of domestic abuse in dating relationships, among other provisions.

Hinson said there are many part of the Senate bill she supports, including increased mental health funding, training for law enforcement and bolstering school security.

“However, I have concerns that parts of this legislation violate due process rights,” Hinson said in a statement. “Legislative solutions must keep guns from getting into the wrong hands without violating the rights of law-abiding gun owners. I am closely reviewing this legislation to ensure that standard is met.”


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