Slain Reporter's Father Fears For His Safety As He Takes Up Gun Control Activism

Andy Parker is even thinking of buying a gun of his own.

Andy Parker, the father of murdered WDBJ journalist Alison Parker, renewed his call Friday for politicians to enact "reasonable" gun control measures. He said the cause was so important to him that he was willing to become an advocate even if it puts his life in danger. 

"When you're in the media, as you know, and when you're taking on an issue like this, there are a lot of people who take exception to what you're saying," Parker said during a press conference Friday afternoon. 

He added that he doesn't own a gun but he may buy one to protect himself. Although he hasn't received any threats yet, he said he doesn't want to "take any chances."

"I don't own a gun. We don't have a gun in our family," Parker said. "I'm probably going to have to get one. Sad to say, but I -- unfortunately, that's just the world we live in."

Alison Parker, 24, and her cameraman, Adam Ward, 27, were gunned down Wednesday morning during a live broadcast for WDBJ, a Roanoke, Virginia-based station. The gunman, whom police have identified as former station employee Vester Lee Flanagan, filmed the shooting and posted footage of it on social media. He killed himself later Wednesday after a police chase.

In the days since his daughter's death, Parker has started forcefully advocating for politicians to restrict access to firearms. On Thursday, he said he was willing to become the "John Walsh" of the issue, referring to the man who created "America's Most Wanted" and became a prominent victims' rights advocate after his son was murdered in 1981.

During his press conference Friday, Parker called on the media to take action as well. 

"I'm hoping that this time is different," he said. "She is one of you guys. ... And you need to use that voice, and we need to keep the pressure on the politicians to not be afraid of the NRA.

 "It's time that we hold these people's feet to the fire and shame them wherever we can," he added.

Flanagan passed a background check and legally bought two handguns from a federally licensed dealer in Virginia last month. During his press conference, Parker compared gun control reforms to wearing a seat belt, arguing that stricter background checks and other measures won't protect people 100 percent of the time, but they'd be a good first step. 

"I want to go to the Virginia legislature, and I want them to look me in the eye and tell me why can't we have a reasonable proposal, any reasonable background check," he said. "You know, the things that common-sense dictates. I want them to look me in the eye and tell me why they don't want to support that."

Parker's father praised Gov. Terry McAuliffe's (D) response to the tragedy, noting that the governor was the first public official to call him. He said he has not heard from Virginia's two U.S. senators, Tim Kaine (D) and Mark Warner (D), although both put out statements expressing their condolences after the shooting.

Warner spokesman Kevin Hall said the senator called and left a message for Parker this afternoon, but they haven't yet been able to connect.

"The senator knows Mr. Parker and wanted to be respectful of the family’s privacy at a time of unimaginable grief," said Hall. 

Kaine spokeswoman Amy Dudley said the senator was "heartbroken" by the shooting.

"Senator Kaine has not yet reached out to the victims’ families out of respect for their space and privacy during this difficult time of grieving," Dudley said. "At the appropriate time, he looks forward to working side-by-side with the families and all Virginians who want to push tougher legislation through Congress to reduce gun violence and prevent such tragedies from happening here and across the country." 

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