The shooting Monday at Washington’s Navy Yard that killed at least a dozen people occurred not only at a secure military installation but in a very secure building.
Metropolitan Police Chief Cathy Lanier said the shooting took place in Building 197, the headquarters of the Naval Sea Systems Command, a workplace for about 3,000 people, both military and civilian.
NAVSEA, as it’s called in the military, is the largest of the Navy’s five system commands, with an annual budget of nearly $30 billion. It’s responsible for designing, building, buying and maintaining the Navy’s ships, submarines and combat systems.
And it’s home to lots of classified information and shrouded in tight security. To access the building, employees must pass through multiple checkpoints.
Sam LaGrone, news editor at the U.S. Naval Institute and a frequent visitor to the Navy Yard, described the building as a “rabbit warren.”
Most people who work for NAVSEA, he said, enter the Navy Yard through the Isaac Hull Gate off of M Street in Southeast Washington, not far from Nationals Park.
Civilian and armed Navy police guard the entrance and do a 100 percent ID check, LaGrone said. Visitors without military credentials require a sponsor to escort you onto base.
Getting on the base, though, does not mean you can get into Building 197, said Chris Cavas, a reporter with Defense News who makes frequent trips to the Navy Yard.
“A shooting on the base would be one thing, but the idea that this would be inside NAVSEA is kind of amazing because it’s not an easy building to access,” he said.
Since much of the work there is classified, people who work in the building would notice a stranger wandering around unescorted, Cavas said. “You’re either known or you’re watched,” he explained.
What’s worse? That in spite of the hundreds of billions thrown at national security infrastructure, that some random person can kill a dozen people in one of the supposedly most secure military installations in the country?
Or that assault rifles are such dangerous weapons that a killer carrying them can slip in to commit atrocities almost anywhere?
Either way, wouldn’t the logical choice be to spend fewer billions on what is obviously security theater, and a lot more simple time and energy on commonsense gun control to make it much harder to acquire assault weapons?
We're going to keep having the same debate every four months with the exact same points made and the exact same conclusions.
— Will McAvoy (@WillMcAvoyACN) September 17, 2013