Father of Virginia TV reporter slain on air vows to fight for gun control

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Father of TV Shooting Victim: I'll Do 'Whatever It Takes' to Reform Gun Laws

The father of a Virginia journalist killed in an on-air shooting said on Thursday he would become a crusader for gun control, but analysts said there was little likelihood of legislation on the federal level any time soon, despite changes in some states.

Two journalists, reporter Alison Parker and cameraman Adam Ward of Roanoke CBS affiliate WDBJ7, were shot during a live interview on Wednesday by a disgruntled former station employee who later killed himself. The woman who was being interviewed was wounded and hospitalized.

Parker's father, Andy Parker, urged state and federal lawmakers to take action on gun control, especially to keep firearms out of the hands of people who were mentally unstable.

24 PHOTOS
WDBJ Moneta, Virginia on-air shooting
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Father of Virginia TV reporter slain on air vows to fight for gun control
MONETA, VA - AUGUST 26: Police work the crime scene at Bridgewater Plaza on Smith Mountain Lake on August 26, 2015 in Moneta, Virginia. Two employees of WDBJ TV were killed this morning during a live broadcast. The victims have been identified as reporter Alison Parker and camerman Adam Ward. Parker, 24 and Ward, 27, worked for WDBJ in Roanoke, Virginia. The suspect, Vester Lee Flanigan, also known as Bryce Williams, died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. (Photo by Jay Paul/Getty Images)
MONETA, VA - AUGUST 26: The TV truck that journalists Alison Parker and Adam Ward drove before they were killed this morning during a live broadcast sits in a parking lot near the scene on August 26, 2015 in Moneta, Virginia. Two employees of WDBJ TV were killed this morning during a live broadcast at Bridgewater Plaza on Smith Mountain Lake. The victims have been identified as reporter Alison Parker and cameraman Adam Ward. Parker, 24 and Ward, 27, worked for WDBJ in Roanoke, Virginia. The suspect, Vester Lee Flanigan, also known as Bryce Williams, died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. (Photo by Jay Paul/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - August 26: Virginia State Police, as well as local and federal authorities, investigate the scene on Interstate 66 eastbound where Vester Lee Flanagan II crashed his car after being pursued by state police near Linden, Va., Wednesday, August 26, 2015. Flanagan was being pursued after fatally shooting WDBJ-TV cameraman Adam Ward and reporter Alison Parker during an on-air interview in Moneta, Va. Flanagan was a former journalist at the television station, where he appeared on air as Bryce Williams. Photo By Al Drago/CQ Roll Call)
MONETA, VA - AUGUST 26: Franklin County, Virginia sheriff, Bill Overton speaks to the press on August 26, 2015 in Moneta, Virginia. Two employees of WDBJ TV were killed this morning during a live broadcast at Bridgewater Plaza on Smith Mountain Lake. The victims have been identified as reporter Alison Parker and camerman Adam Ward. Parker, 24 and Ward, 27, worked for WDBJ in Roanoke, Virginia. The suspect, Vester Lee Flanigan, also known as Bryce Williams, died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. (Photo by Jay Paul/Getty Images)
We love you, Alison and Adam. http://t.co/hLSzQi06XE
It is with extreme sadness that we report WDBJ7's Alison Parker and Adam Ward were killed in an attack this morning. http://t.co/oC9s4vLJXV
Very sad moment in the newsroom as the WDBJ GM confirms that both the reporter and photographer are dead. Senseless http://t.co/qWvWd55UZh
We didn't share this publicly, but @AParkerWDBJ7 and I were very much in love. We just moved in together. I am numb. http://t.co/tUrHVwAXcN
We were together almost nine months. It was the best nine months of our lives. We wanted to get married.We just celebrated her 24th birthday
Still shots of #WDBJ killer. Please RT. http://t.co/5y3mJLs9nn
#BREAKING #WDBJ shooting suspect Vester Flanagan has shot and killed himself on I-66: http://t.co/3Nx0vOkeIN #WHSV http://t.co/BHVR6QcvTS
The suspect in the #WDBJ shooting is being chased north on I-81
Don't share the video of the shooting Share this link: 12 minutes of the WDBJ crew remembering who these people were http://t.co/m4eWGija1x
Vicki Gardner of the Smith Mountain Lake Chamber of Commerce was hurt in the shooting. We are told she is in surgery. http://t.co/XLx3pS2I5X
Just hanging out in the newsroom with @jdashiell and Photographer Adam Ward! http://t.co/lyW9cCZ99G
Photog Adam @dowork88 playing with little Ralphie this morning at the Regional Center for Animal Care and Protection! http://t.co/TcooX5ZKu6
A "rock star" & a "great journalist." Friends remember #WDBJ journalists killed in shooting: http://t.co/V11VsJB7D7 http://t.co/qI8WGKlIJW
Late journalist Alison Parker in her own words. The video was posted to #WDBJ website earlier this year. http://t.co/gFabZwreK6
I am comforted by everyone at @WDBJ7. We are a family. She worked with Adam every day. They were a team. I am heartbroken for his fiancee.
Heartbroken over senseless murders today in Smith Mountain Lake. State Police on scene working w/ local law agencies to capture suspect.
This is a horrific day for our @wdbj family and the community we serve. http://t.co/LYRDFB8C2R
JUST IN: Reporter and photographer killed after gunman opens fire live on TV http://t.co/sHeTmsOhcm @wsls http://t.co/eZ8XnSdHz2
#WDBJ7 http://t.co/vuceViGwpi
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"I'm not going to rest until I see something happen. We've got to have our legislators and congressmen step up to the plate and stop being cowards about this," Parker told CNN, describing himself as a supporter of the constitutional right to keep and bear arms.

He said the National Rifle Association, the powerful U.S. gun lobby, likely would contend that his daughter and Ward would have been safe if they themselves had been armed.

"It wouldn't have made any difference," Parker said. "How many Alisons is this going to happen to before we stop it?"

The United States had about 34,000 firearms deaths in 2013, with almost two-thirds of them suicides, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Sarah Trumble, a senior policy counsel for the Third Way, a Washington think tank, said prospects for gun control had little chance in the Republican-controlled Congress, despite intense media focus on the Virginia killings.

"There's no playbook for what to do here," she said, but added that changes were more likely in states than at a federal level. "The states are really where the action is."

The last time there was a push at the federal level for tighter gun control was following the massacre of 26 people, mostly children, at the Sandy Hook elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, in December 2012.

President Barack Obama supported legislation that would have extended background checks for gun buyers and banned rapid-firing assault weapons. But despite national revulsion over the Newtown killings it was rejected in April 2013 by the U.S. Senate, including by some lawmakers in Obama's Democratic Party.

After Wednesday's shooting, Obama reiterated his frustration over the issue of gun violence, saying the United States needs to do "a better job of making sure that people who have problems, people who shouldn't have guns, don't have them."

MEASURES GO AHEAD

Although the issue is stalled at a national level, gun control measures have gone ahead in the last two years in several U.S. states, with 18 now requiring background checks for the sale of handguns, said Colin Goddard, senior policy adviser for Everytown, a gun control advocacy group backed by former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

Among other gains for advocates of gun control are a 2014 referendum in Washington state for background checks on gun sales in which backers of the initiative outspent the NRA. Oregon's governor in May signed legislation for background checks on almost all buyers.

Nevada voters will go to the polls in a similar referendum next year.

See reactions to the on-air shooting:

32 PHOTOS
Reactions to live on-air shooting in Virginia
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Father of Virginia TV reporter slain on air vows to fight for gun control
My heart goes out to the two journalists who were shot in Virginia this morning. My show airs on @WDBJ7 every day. Sending love to you all.
Heartbroken and angry. We must act to stop gun violence, and we cannot wait any longer. Praying for the victims' families in Virginia. -H
Heartbroken over senseless murders today in Smith Mountain Lake. State Police on scene working w/ local law agencies to capture suspect.
Thoughts w/the loved ones & colleagues of the young #WDBJ journalists murdered this a.m. doing the jobs they loved. http://t.co/AkhMmccGIW
Shocked and horrified by the news coming out of Virginia... To murder people and then live tweet about it?? It's sick.
My thoughts and prayers go out to the families and colleagues of Alison Parker and Adam Ward. So heartbreaking #WDBJ https://t.co/lgmCAKdXxX
Shocked by the insanity of the Virginia shooting. My thoughts are with the loved ones and I hope we will find a solution to this madness.
I've worked in markets like #WDBJ. Sometimes you're early in your career, and your coworkers are a 2nd family. I can't imagine their grief
Heartbroken about the shooting in Va today. My deepest sympathy to family & friends of Alison and Adam, prayers for Vicki. @WDBJ7 #hometown
Two journalist were shot and killed today. On TV. Live. Let me guess. Now is not the time to discuss gun control?
Senseless violence tears at my heart today. Thoughts are with the loved ones of the news crew killed in Virginia this morning.
So sorry and shocked to hear about the shooting in Virginia. My heart goes out to the victims families and loved ones
Remember that even when shooting deaths are happening in front of our eyes on live TV, it's not the right time to talk about gun control.
Alison Parker. Adam Ward. What a sad, sad day. Two journalists murdered doing their jobs.
Horrified to hear that 2 young journalists were shot & killed doing the job they loved. Praying for the #WDBJ family. http://t.co/kE0sAJhCy3
HOW MANY TIMES DOES THIS NEED TO HAPPEN BEFORE WE GET IT? WE NEED MORE CONVERSATIONS ABOUT GUN CONTROL AND MENTAL ILLNESS. #WDBJ
Not sure how these folks at #WDBJ are doing what they're doing today. Pros beyond pros. Can't even imagine.
Shocked by the horrific murders in Roanoke. Columba and I are praying for Alison, Adam and all those affected.
Cathy and I are praying for the friends and family of those killed in the tragic shooting in Franklin County this morning.
Tragic loss of @dowork88 and @AParkerWDBJ7 this morning. Our prayers go out to their friends, family and the entire news crew. - SW
Senseless. Awful. My thoughts are with the entire @WDBJ7 family. -O'M https://t.co/0LSdthgKE7
My thoughts and prayers are with the victims, their families, and #WDBJ7. Absolutely heartbreaking.
Janet & I are heartbroken by the deaths of @WDBJ7 journalists Alison Parker & Adam Ward. Praying for everyone affected by this tragedy.
All of our thoughts and prayers are with the family, friends, and loved ones of @WDBJ7’s Alison and Adam.
My prayers go out to the @WDBJ7 family and their tragic loss this morning.
My thoughts & prayers are with all affected by the shooting this morning in Roanoke, Virginia.
My thoughts are with the family & friends of Amy & Adam from @WDBJ7. Like so many other journalists, their work is central to our freedom.
#RIPAlisonandAdam you feel safe at work. your guards were down because why wouldn't they be? This was SO unfair. 24 and 27 years old.
coward
So the shooter has a Twitter account where he's posting videos of himself walking up and committing the shooting. Good God.
Already this year, 39 journalists have been killed around the world. Today, 2 more names are being added to the list. http://t.co/l0rR6tXTig
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In Maine, Goddard said Everytown had started a campaign to get a background checks question on the ballot. But gun rights advocates notched a victory in the state last month when it became the fifth to allow gun owners to carry concealed weapons without a permit.

In Virginia, where the NRA is headquartered, Democratic Governor Terry McAuliffe called for gun controls after Wednesday's shooting.

But gun control legislation is unlikely to pass the Republican-dominated legislature, said Stephen Farnsworth, a pollster at the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg, Virginia.

"It's a very gun-friendly legislature and the shootings this week will do little to change that," Farnsworth said. He added that polls have shown more support for gun control among state residents than among politicians.

Wednesday's shootings were particularly shocking because they happened on air, and because of social media posts about the attack by Vester Flanagan, 41, the man police said carried out the shooting.

His posts illustrated a trend of people wanting to commit murders and post images of the killings online to gain notoriety, Parker's boyfriend, Chris Hurst, told NBC.

See memorials for the victims:

13 PHOTOS
Memorials for Virginia shooting victims
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Father of Virginia TV reporter slain on air vows to fight for gun control
ROANOKE, VA - AUGUST 30: An Interfaith Service of Remembrance and Healing to commemorate the lives of WDBJ reporters Alison Parker and Adam Ward is held at the Jefferson Center in Shaftman Performance Hall in on August 30, 2015, in Roanoke, Virginia. The commemoration featured an introductory slideshow, taken during one of Parker's and Ward's humorous broadcasts on WDBJ7 in Roanoke's 'Mornin' show. Parker and Ward were reportedely killed by Vester Lee Flanigan, also known as Bryce Williams, during a live broadcast on August 26th in Moneta, Virginia. Williams later died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. (Photo by Stephanie Klein-Davis/Getty Images)
ROANOKE, VA - AUGUST 30, 2015: (L-R) Dave Skole, with Christ Lutheran Church in Roanoke consoles Chris Hurst, boyfriend and colleague of Alison Parker, at the Interfaith Service of Remembrance and Healing to commemorate the lives of WDBJ reporters Alison Parker and Adam Ward at the Jefferson Center in Shaftman Performance Hall in on August 30, 2015, in Roanoke, Virginia. Parker and Ward were reportedely killed by Vester Lee Flanigan, also known as Bryce Williams, during a live broadcast on August 26th in Moneta, Virginia. Williams later died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. (Photo by Stephanie Klein-Davis/Getty Images)
ROANOKE, VA - AUGUST 30, 2015:Andy Parker, father of Alison Parker, is comforted by a family member of Parker's boyfriend and colleague, Chris Hurst, following the Interfaith Service of Remembrance and Healing to commemorate the lives of WDBJ reporters Alison Parker and Adam Ward at the Jefferson Center in Shaftman Performance Hall in on August 30, 2015, in Roanoke, Virginia. Parker and Ward were reportedely killed by Vester Lee Flanigan, also known as Bryce Williams, during a live broadcast on August 26th in Moneta, Virginia. Williams later died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. (Photo by Stephanie Klein-Davis/Getty Images)
MARTINSVILLE, VA - AUGUST 27: Residents hold candles during a vigil for Alison Parker on Martinsville High School's football field on August 27, 2015 in Martinsville, Virginia. Two employees of WDBJ TV were killed during a live broadcast at Bridgewater Plaza on Smith Mountain Lake on August 26. The victims have been identified as reporter Alison Parker and cameraman Adam Ward. Parker, 24 and Ward, 27, worked for WDBJ in Roanoke, Virginia. The suspect, Vester Lee Flanigan, also known as Bryce Williams, died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. (Photo by Jay Paul/Getty Images)
MARTINSVILLE, VA - AUGUST 27: A photo sits amonst flowers at a candlelight vigil for Alison Parker on Martinsville High School's football field on August 27, 2015 in Martinsville, Virginia. Two employees of WDBJ TV were killed during a live broadcast at Bridgewater Plaza on Smith Mountain Lake on August 26. The victims have been identified as reporter Alison Parker and cameraman Adam Ward. Parker, 24 and Ward, 27, worked for WDBJ in Roanoke, Virginia. The suspect, Vester Lee Flanigan, also known as Bryce Williams, died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. (Photo by Jay Paul/Getty Images)
MARTINSVILLE, VA - AUGUST 27: Residents attend a candlelight vigil for Alison Parker on Martinsville High School's football field on August 27, 2015 in Martinsville, Virginia. Two employees of WDBJ TV were killed during a live broadcast at Bridgewater Plaza on Smith Mountain Lake on August 26. The victims have been identified as reporter Alison Parker and cameraman Adam Ward. Parker, 24 and Ward, 27, worked for WDBJ in Roanoke, Virginia. The suspect, Vester Lee Flanigan, also known as Bryce Williams, died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. (Photo by Jay Paul/Getty Images)
ROANOKE, VA - AUGUST 26: DonnaToliver leaves flowers at a memorial for the two journalist that were killed this morning during a live broadcast on August 26, 2015 in Roanoke, Virginia. Two employees of WDBJ TV were killed this morning during a live broadcast at Bridgewater Plaza on Smith Mountain Lake. The victims have been identified as reporter Alison Parker and cameraman Adam Ward. Parker, 24 and Ward, 27, worked for WDBJ in Roanoke, Virginia. The suspect, Vester Lee Flanigan, also known as Bryce Williams, died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. (Photo by Jay Paul/Getty Images)
ROANOKE, VA - AUGUST 26: Madalyn Hartberger (L) and Rachel Ostrom bring flowers for the two journalist that were killed this morning during a live broadcast on August 26, 2015 in Roanoke, Virginia. Two employees of WDBJ TV were killed this morning during a live broadcast at Bridgewater Plaza on Smith Mountain Lake. The victims have been identified as reporter Alison Parker and cameraman Adam Ward. Parker, 24 and Ward, 27, worked for WDBJ in Roanoke, Virginia. The suspect, Vester Lee Flanigan, also known as Bryce Williams, died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. (Photo by Jay Paul/Getty Images)
ROANOKE, VA - AUGUST 26: DonnaToliver leaves flowers at a memorial for the two journalist that were killed this morning during a live broadcast on August 26, 2015 in Roanoke, Virginia. Two employees of WDBJ TV were killed this morning during a live broadcast at Bridgewater Plaza on Smith Mountain Lake. The victims have been identified as reporter Alison Parker and cameraman Adam Ward. Parker, 24 and Ward, 27, worked for WDBJ in Roanoke, Virginia. The suspect, Vester Lee Flanigan, also known as Bryce Williams, died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. (Photo by Jay Paul/Getty Images)
ROANOKE, VA - AUGUST 26: Madalyn Hartberger (L) and Rachel Ostrom bring flowers for the two journalist that were killed this morning during a live broadcast on August 26, 2015 in Roanoke, Virginia. Two employees of WDBJ TV were killed this morning during a live broadcast at Bridgewater Plaza on Smith Mountain Lake. The victims have been identified as reporter Alison Parker and cameraman Adam Ward. Parker, 24 and Ward, 27, worked for WDBJ in Roanoke, Virginia. The suspect, Vester Lee Flanigan, also known as Bryce Williams, died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. (Photo by Jay Paul/Getty Images)
ROANOKE, VA - AUGUST 26: Flowers are left for the two journalist that were killed this morning during a live broadcast on August 26, 2015 in Roanoke, Virginia. Two employees of WDBJ TV were killed this morning during a live broadcast at Bridgewater Plaza on Smith Mountain Lake. The victims have been identified as reporter Alison Parker and cameraman Adam Ward. Parker, 24 and Ward, 27, worked for WDBJ in Roanoke, Virginia. The suspect, Vester Lee Flanigan, also known as Bryce Williams, died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. (Photo by Jay Paul/Getty Images)
ROANOKE, VA - AUGUST 26: Jil Harrington leaves flowers for the two journalist that were killed this morning during a live broadcast on August 26, 2015 in Roanoke, Virginia. Two employees of WDBJ TV were killed this morning during a live broadcast at Bridgewater Plaza on Smith Mountain Lake. The victims have been identified as reporter Alison Parker and cameraman Adam Ward. Parker, 24 and Ward, 27, worked for WDBJ in Roanoke, Virginia. The suspect, Vester Lee Flanigan, also known as Bryce Williams, died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. (Photo by Jay Paul/Getty Images)
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