Carper, Leahy and Duckworth Introduce Legislation to Help Communities Prepare for & Respond to Active Shooter Events

Active Shooter Preparedness Enhancement Act of 2016 will provide resources, guidance to state and local partners to develop response plans and train for active shooter incidents 

Absent Congressional action to keep firearms out of the hands of suspected terrorists or criminals or expand commonsense background checks, the bill will help communities better prepare for active shooters 

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senators Tom Carper (D-Del.), top Democrat on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, and Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, introduced legislation to help communities across the country better prepare for and respond to active shooter and mass casualty events. Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) has also introduced a companion bill in the House.

Active shooter attacks often happen with little notice and can evolve quickly, requiring strong preparation and a well-coordinated response from multiple state, local, and federal agencies, nongovernmental partners and private sector entities. The Active Shooter Preparedness Enhancement Act of 2016 will ensure the federal government is helping communities prepare for these tragic attacks. The legislation would require the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), in consultation with the Attorney General and other federal agencies, to provide valuable expertise to local and state partners so that communities can develop emergency action and response plans for active shooter and mass casualty incidents in both public and private locations. Specifically, the guidance would help communities develop:

  • strategies for evacuating and providing care to victims
  • a plan for establishing a unified command, which would identify staging areas for law enforcement and emergency responders
  • a plan to coordinate communication with police and emergency response personnel and volunteer organizations to expedite assistance for the victims
  • a schedule for the regular testing of equipment used to receive communications during an emergency

Additionally, the bill would make explicit that State Homeland Security Grant Program (SHSGP) and Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI) funding can be used for active shooter training and would add “active shooter” to the list of threats that should be considered when assessing threats to populations for SHSGP and UASI grants.

“Too many communities across the country have been ripped apart by unspeakable acts of violence at the hands of active shooters. From Charleston to San Bernardino to Orlando to Dallas less than one week ago, these senseless attacks are reminders that we must continue to do more to help the American people address this threat,” said Senator Carper. “While we must continue to prevent these tragic incidents from happening in the first place through sensible gun safety measures, we must also make sure that our communities, and especially those on the front lines every day, have the tools and training to respond quickly and effectively. By providing local and state partners with guidance and resources from the Department of Homeland Security and other federal agencies, we can work together to ensure that our first responders are well-equipped and ready when unexpected situations arise.”

“Congress must work together to address the frustration and grief felt by the American people who are devastated by the loss of life in Dallas, Orlando, and far too many other communities. One step we can take is to provide additional resources to our state and local law enforcement agents who are often the first to arrive when there is an active shooter in our communities. The Active Shooter Preparedness Enhancement Act would provide support for handling these situations which have grown all too common across the country,” said Senator Leahy.

“The horrific mass shootings in Orlando and Dallas—along with increasingly-frequent and needless violence across our country—make clear that we must do much, much more to keep our country and our people safe,” said Congresswoman Duckworth. “We owe it to the victims, their families and our communities to enact a comprehensive and coordinated response that protects Americans’ lives and prevents additional senseless tragedies. This bill is an important step toward that goal.”