Southmoreland physics teacher Mr. Keith Maginsky was shocked to hear about the tragic events of the Washington Naval Yard shooting on Sept. 16. Twelve government employees and at least 14 others were shot or injured in a shooting rampage by an employee of the naval yard, Aaron Alexis.
Mr. Maginsky had a similar occupation as Alexis at the Naval Surface Warfare Center (NSWC) just outside of Washington DC.
“During my time as a GS12, or a civilian contractor, I never thought that something like this would have ever occurred.” said Maginsky. “We (the employees of NSWC) never would have thought this was even possible.”
According to Mr. Maginsky, during his time at NSWC it was not uncommon to see other employees caring around a large duffle bag like Alexis did.
“Most of these naval yards and facilities have some sort of weight room or gym so the employees can exercise,” said Maginsky. “It was very possible that the people at the security check points thought he had clothes and things to use in the weight room.”
The one shock to Maginsky was the lack of security checks at the installation.
“I was very surprised to hear there was no baggage check,” said Maginsky.” If they would have had some check in place there is a good chance this shooting may have never happened.”
History teacher Mr. David Keefer, a retired Marine sergeant, was concerned when he first heard of the shooting.
“You always have to ask yourself was it a terrorist attack or was it someone from the U.S.,” said Keefer. “In today’s world you can’t speculate anything. Especially with more and more home grown terrorists.”
Mr. Keefer stressed that even though the Washington Naval Yard is a government and military facility, it is more “civilian controlled.” This includes the security units assigned to the yard.
Both teachers stress the need for a more in depth background checks and a better way to flag and detect someone unfit of purchasing a firearm.
“There should be some way for a psychologist to add info to the system saying a person has a mental problem,” said Mr. Maginsky. “If someone has a problem or goes to a psychologist for help, then that person should be placed on a waiting list or completely red flagged.”
Mr. Keefer, on the other hand, thinks differently of a solution. He thinks that a better system should be in place when companies like Hewlett Packard, the employment of Alexis, hire veterans of the Armed Forces.
“I don’t like to put the blame on anyone, but this is the employer’s fault,” said Mr. Keefer. “Aaron Alexis had some run ins with the law during his time in the service. This should be a huge red flag for employers.”
Both teachers agree that this tragedy is an eye opener for the need of heightened security and better methods of background checks at military and government installations to prevent more tragedies like this from happening.