Republican Sens. Rick Scott of Florida and Tommy Tuberville of Alabama introduced legislation Wednesday cracking down on swatting.
The Preserving Safe Communities by Ending Swatting Act expands the federal criminal hoax statute to prohibit the practice of reporting a fake crime to elicit a heavy law-enforcement response, including from a SWAT team. A wide range of lawmakers and other public figures were caught up in a nationwide swatting spree in December, including Scott.
“Last month, criminals attempted a ‘swatting’ on my home in Florida in a despicable act of cowardice, clearly intending to terrorize my family and inflict fear and violence,” the Florida Republican said in a statement. “This is happening around the nation, not just to elected officials, but also to hundreds of Jewish institutions. It’s sickening, dangerous and we must stop it. I’m incredibly grateful for the work of law enforcement around our nation to keep us safe and put their lives on the line every day. They shouldn’t be put in danger and have their time and resources wasted because of these disgusting hoaxes. Today, I am introducing a bill to make sure the criminals who make these false calls and waste law enforcement resources face serious consequences, including years in prison, if anyone is seriously harmed. We must send a message to the cowards behind these calls—this isn’t a joke, it’s a crime.”
As Scott referenced, penalties for swatting would be strict, including up to two decades in prison if a serious injury occurs due to the hoax.
Last month, criminals attempted a ‘swatting’ on my home in a despicable act of cowardice.— Rick Scott (@SenRickScott) January 17, 2024
I'm introducing a bill to make sure these thugs face serious consequences for putting families and law enforcement in danger. This isn’t a joke. It’s a crime.https://t.co/0YKCAURTw0
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, who was swatted on Christmas Day, vowed last month to introduce legislation to address the issue.
"...[A]fter today, I have been swatted 8 times but the FBI can’t seem to figure out who is responsible for the swatting and says the law doesn’t allow them to track them down," Greene said on X at the time. "The FBI can do so many things, has even abused FISA to spy on hundreds of thousands of Americans, but can not figure out who wants me killed by a hail of bullets fired by a SWAT team responding to murder suicide calls supposedly coming from me. Thankfully my local police are far too smart, know me well, and know exactly what these swatting calls are. I know there are good FBI agents that are completely sick and tired of the Biden administration they work under. Swatting is extremely dangerous and people have been killed as a result from swatting calls. It’s also a waste of police time and resources and harassment. I will be introducing legislation to track down swatters. Thank you to everyone who has sent well wishes for me and my family. I will never stop fighting for what is right and I will always put America first! No matter what or who attacks me."