Alison Parker's Dad, Andy Parker, Vows To Be "The John Walsh Of Gun Control," If That's What It Takes
Television journalist Alison Parker's father, Andy Parker, has vowed to advocate for stronger gun control laws following her death. Speaking through tears to FOX News host Megyn Kelly on Wednesday evening, Parker promised to hold lawmakers accountable for legislation that would make it more difficult to get a firearm without a background check, adding his name to a list of survivors and family members who have become America's most vocal advocates for gun control.
Alison Parker and cameraman Adam Ward were conducting a live television interview in Moneta, Virginia when an armed suspect approached them and opened fire, killing them both. The horrific incident was caught live on the air, and the alleged gunman, Vester Lee Flanagan, posted his own footage of the shooting on social media before committing suicide. Speaking to Fox News on Wednesday night, Andy Parker called for stronger laws to keep firearms away from "crazy people," and vowed to make advocating for stronger legislation his life's mission: "I'm not gonna let this issue drop. You know, we've got to do something about crazy people getting guns. [...] This is something that's Alison's legacy, that I'm gonna make happen."
"It’s senseless that her life and Adam’s life were taken by a crazy person with a gun. If I have to be the John Walsh of gun control ..." he added.
Here's a video of Parker's impassioned interview with Kelly:
After nearly every mass shooting, there's an uptick of interest in examining the country's gun control laws. However, Parker pointed out in his interview that part of the problem is that the public's attention on this issue tends to be short-lived:
... [T]he problem that you guys have is that ... I know it's the news business and this is a big story, but next week this isn't gonna be a story anymore and everybody's gonna forget it, but you mark my words: My mission in life [...] I'm gonna do something, whatever it takes, to get gun legislation to shame people -- to shame legislators -- into doing something about closing loopholes and background checks and making sure crazy people don't get guns.
Still, if Parker does decide to work for national legislation to rework the country's gun laws, he won't be alone. Several other survivors and victims' family members are part of the powerful — and growing — voice for gun reform in the United States. Here are a few gun control advocates who began lobbying for reform after living through the horror of a mass shooting.
Former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords
During a political event in Tucson, a gunman opened fire on then-Rep. Giffords and her staff, killing six people and injuring 13. Giffords herself was severely wounded in the attacked, but recovered and went on to establish the advocacy organization Americans for Responsible Solutions to encourage more legislator action. Following the Virginia shootings, Giffords issued a message on Twitter to show support for the victims' families and double down on the need for solutions.
Aurora Mother Sandy Phillips
After her daughter was killed in the 2012 movie theater shooting in Aurora, Colorado, Sandy Phillips began advocating for universal background checks for gun buyers. Phillips and her husband are both gun owners, and have spoken to members of Congress about tightening the restrictions on sales at gun shows and over the Internet.
Colorado Rep. Patrick Neville
A survivor of the 1999 Columbine shootings, Rep. Neville believes that protecting students from another mass shooting requires more firearms, not fewer. In the state's 2015 legislative session, Neville introduced a bill to allow anyone with a concealed weapons permit the right to carry firearms in a public school.
Families Of The Newtown Victims
Many of the families of the victims and survivors of the 2012 shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School successfully pushed for state-level legislation to tighten background checks and limit ammunition available in Connecticut. The Newtown advocates have since turned their focus to Congress, lobbying for similar federal protections.
While they may be no simple solutions to addressing gun violence in the United States, the chilling statistics on gun violence make it clear that America has a gun problem. As of this week, there have been some 247 mass shootings in the United States in 2015 so far. That's more than one per day. If Parker decides to join the national conversation on gun control, he'll be getting in on a complicated battle, but one that's necessary to prevent even more deaths.