Navy Yard Massacre Reignites Gun Control Debate

While it’s been only one day since 12 people were killed at the massacre at the Washington Navy Yard, momentum for significant policy change in response to the shooting is already starting to gather — both within and outside the government.

Gun control advocates are hoping the incident will reinvigorate efforts to push stricter gun control laws after a similar initiative fizzled earlier in the year. Democratic Senators Dianne Feinstein and Jay Rockafeller both spoke to this point in the wake of yesterday’s shooting, and around 50 advocates from Newtown, Connecticut will arrive in Washington tomorrow in attempts to convince legislators of the need to pass gun reform legislation.

But while Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is supportive of new gun control laws, he flatly stated today that “we don’t have the votes” to pass any new legislation.

“We’re going to move this up as quickly as we can but we’ve got to have the votes first,” Reid told reporters. “We don’t have the votes. I hope we get them but we don’t have them now.”

Meanwhile, news that Navy Yard shooter Aaron Alexis cleared the facility’s security using a legitimate temp-job ID (and gun) prompted the federal government to launch a flurry of reassessments of security policy at its facilities around the world.

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters Tuesday that the Office of Management and Budget “is examining standards for contractors and employees across federal agencies” in response to the shooting. This would be the second time in a matter of months that the Obama administration has ordered a review of security clearances; the first was launched in the wake of Edward Snowden’s leaks earlier this summer.

Perhaps as soon as tomorrow, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is set to announce a review of the Defense Department’s physical security procedures at all of its installations worldwide, and the Navy will launch a similar review of security at its domestic installations.

Yesterday, the inspector general at the Pentagon released a report (originally due for publication next month) criticizing the Navy’s security measures and concluding that improper vetting of contractors and visitors “plac[ed] military personnel, dependents, civilians, and installations at an increased security risk.”