Barbara & Andy Parker Have Taken Up A Passionate, Personal Fight For Gun Control In The Wake Of Their Daughter's Death. Will It Work?
Less than a week since their daughter, WDBJ7 reporter Alison Parker, was shot and killed on live television, Andy and Barbara Parker have launched a passionate, personal gun control reform campaign. Alison and her cameraman coworker Adam Ward were murdered by Vester Flanagan, a disgruntled former employee of WDBJ7, during a live news broadcast in Moneta, Virginia. Flanagan filmed the shooting, posted it to Twitter and Facebook during a chase with police, and then shot himself just before being apprehended by cops.
Alison's dad, Andy, has appeared on a number of news channels speaking about gun control; he and his wife even hosted their own news conference. In it, Andy said that he has been in touch with Gabby Giffords' husband, Virginia Sen. Mark Warner, and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Sunday on CNN, Andy and Barbara called for basic background checks for all gun purchases, and Andy said he would not let his daughter's death fade into the past without achieving some kind of "sensible gun control legislation."
Andy told CNN that Alison would be "really mad" if he didn't take on gun control reform after a tragedy like this. He said pro-gun rights advocates are "messing with the wrong family," according to CNN:
After Newtown, after Aurora, after Gabby Giffords was shot — you think, something is gonna get done. This time, the circumstances of this tragedy, they are different.
Barbara said she is not afraid of the ardent Second-Amendment defenders, regardless of how difficult it has been for the loved ones of previous gun violence victims to successfully campaign against them, according to CNN.
There are people out there whose minds we will never change. If you are a parent, if you are a mother, if you have children — how can you look your child in the eye and say we are willing to allow you to be collateral damage in order to keep what some people perceive to be their constitutional rights? If we as a society are willing to accept that, what kind of society are we?
Andy also told Fox News that he would "shame legislators into doing something," according to The Roanoke Times. Unfortunately, Roanoke Times columnist Dan Casey pointed out that Virginia lawmakers' record on the issue of gun control shows that they are impossible to shame. Casey noted that Andy might have a better shot at "persuading Liberty University to establish a Planned Parenthood chapter on campus," than he would at shaming Virginia legislators on their pro-gun agenda.
Since the Virginia Tech shooting, Virginia lawmakers have repeatedly loosened firearms restrictions. Just a few months after the Virginia Tech tragedy, the Virginia House and Senate passed a bill allowing concealed carry in bars, according to The Roanoke Times. It was vetoed that year and in 2009 by former Gov. Tim Kaine, but it was signed into law in 2010 by former Gov. Bob McDonnell. Casey noted that a few weeks after it went into effect, a permit holder who had been drinking shot himself in a Lynchburg restaurant.
In 2009, the legislature passed a law allowing concealed-carry applicants to demonstrate "gun competence" by watching a one-hour online video instead of having to take a classroom course. Applicants could even print their own certificates at home. In the same year, state lawmakers made it illegal for Virginia State Police to disclose data on concealed-carry permit holders. The law makes it harder for citizens to see if people charged in gun crimes possessed Virginia concealed-carry permits — information that is supposed to be publicly available, according to The Roanoke Times.
There have been a number of similar laws passed since 2009. One of the most recent reforms, though, happened in 2014, when lawmakers gave school boards discretion to not expel students who brought guns to school "regardless of the facts," according to The Roanoke Times.
Todd Gilbert, the deputy majority leader in Virginia’s House of Delegates and one of the proponents behind some of these efforts, told the Washington Post that pro-gun laws don't put guns into the hands of bad people — they just allow more good people to have guns:
All the members of this place try to oversimplify everything all the time. I know it's a complicated issue, but I've just never seen how disarming law-abiding people made anybody safer.