By Buddy Blouin
The 2019 Pensacola naval base shooting was an event that shook Naval Air Station Pensacola, the local community, and the United States. This heinous act of terror claimed the lives of three U.S. Navy Sailors as well as injured eight others. Since the terrorist attack on December 6, 2019,  NAS Pensacola has been practicing increased security that was only further complicated by the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. But many locals and Veterans alike are pushing for more access. Here’s where the base currently stands and what you need to know before making a trip.

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Security Increased After the Pensacola Naval Base Shooting

After the NAS Pensacola shooting in 2019, security obviously got tighter. The Naval base would go on lockdown, and in the next few months, access would be restricted, even before things changed due to COVID-19. First and foremost, the Navy base in Pensacola, FL, serves as a place to train and condition military personnel to better defend our country. But already located in one of the popular tourist communities on the Gulf Coast, NAS Pensacola is a destination for Veterans and travelers alike. Pristine beaches adorned with vibrant gift shops and restaurants offering some of the best seafood in the south are all major draws to the area. The Navy base in Pensacola itself is close to all of these features and draws in tourists, as it is home to the National Naval Aviation Museum featuring more than 150 aircraft on site. The biggest draw, however, is the annual Blue Angels Air Show. NAS Pensacola is where the Blue Angels are headquartered, and their high-flying acrobatics pull in hundreds of thousands of spectators ready to enjoy the eye-popping maneuvers, beautiful beaches, and cold beverages with family and friends. On top of everything, the military base Pensacola, Florida, is known for also holds various community events to remember important dates regarding the military. Combined, all of these events paint a picture of why the security restrictions have been hard on those who wish to visit. This is leading to public outcry from those who understand the importance of safety but want to balance it with easier access and a sense of normalcy.

The Plea for Normalcy Grows Louder

The shooting at the naval base in Pensacola had long-lasting effects that are still felt today. However, calls to restore NAS Pensacola access are growing, and supporters want Washington to notice. They're using a campaign known as “Open Our Museum” to draw attention to the issue. "From addressing key social issues to transforming how we see the future; the most modest museum has the power to reflect and shape our society. It is impossible to explain the empowerment that this aviation museum holds for our visitors — young and old," said supporter Nancy Fetterman. So far, these pleas have raised attention, but not much has been done to overturn the harsh security restrictions in place, though there is hope. Voices continue to rise on the issue, and the increased security following the Pensacola naval base shooting was eased on a temporary basis. NAS Pensacola was open to the public for one day only to commemorate the anniversary of the Battle of Midway.

How To Visit in the Aftermath of the NAS Pensacola Shooting

Since the Pensacola base shooting, only certain personnel meeting specific criteria have been allowed on site. DoD ID cardholders or those with a Veterans Health Identification Card are allowed to visit the National Naval Aviation Museum, Pensacola Lighthouse, Fort Barrancas, and practices for the Blue Angels. DoD ID cardholders can escort guests through the museum as part of the Trusted Traveler Program but are required to stay with their guests at all times. Any act of terror is inexcusable, and the Pensacola naval base shooting is a tragedy that still hinders the lives of Americans. It is an unfortunate reminder of the freedoms that are at risk due to violence from our enemies. Furthermore, it is a stark reminder that our freedoms cost the sacrifice given by those who serve this country day in and day out.

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