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Gunman Thwarted Tough Security

Security has been visibly increased in recent years inside the Capitol and at other Federal buildings in Washington. The most recent tightening of security measures came in 1995, after the bombing at a Federal building in Oklahoma City leveled that building and killed 168 people.
At the Capitol now, all lawmakers' staff members and visitors must pass through metal detectors to get inside the building. Senators and congressmen do not have to go through the detectors.

CBS News Chief Washington Correspondent Bob Schieffer reported that security had already been increased at the Capitol and the White House. Further reported Schieffer, the alleged gunman was described as "being in the secret service's files"

A bomb was detonated in the Capitol as recently as 1983. The bomb was placed in a ground-floor restroom near the Senate chamber. No one was injured in that blast, but there was more than $1 million in damage.

Another blast at the building in 1971 also led to an intensification of security measures.

At the White House, President Clinton ordered the closing of Pennsylvania Avenue for two long blocks in May 1995, after a gunman opened fire there. That action came after an extensive security review, and was urged by Secret Service agents.

After the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995, Sen. Rod Grams, R-Minn., told the Senate shortly before its summer recess that his staff conducted a survey of Capitol security and argued that security measures there amounted to a "barricade of Capitol Hill."

On a quick pass of the grounds, his staffers found 27 police, 33 retractable traffic barriers, 26 concrete barricades, as well as racks, ropes, and yellow tape limiting access to some areas. They also counted nine plainclothes and 58 uniformed police guarding the House and Senate floors.

But in February 1998, Gary L. Abrecht, chief of the United States Capitol police, told the Senate Appropriations Committee that more had to be done to protect the Capitol. He told the committee that a three-phase, five-year plan to modernize security in the Capitol was continuing. The plan called for new alarms, cameras, and security equipment.

"I am pleased to report that the repair and upgrade of the physical security systems within the Capitol complex is proceeding smoothly," he said.