National Press Club

After losing his daughter to violence, father becomes advocate for gun safety

March 7, 2019 | By Julia Haskins | juliaannehaskins@gmail.com

Andy Parker, author of “For Alison,” speaks at a March 6 event at the National Press Club.

Andy Parker, author of “For Alison,” speaks at a March 6 event at the National Press Club.

Photo/Image: J. Craig Shearman

Andy Parker became an advocate the day his daughter Alison Parker, a news reporter for a Roanoke, Virginia, television station, was killed on air. At a National Press Club Headliners Book and Author event on Wednesday, Parker discussed his new book, “For Alison: The Murder of a Young Journalist and a Father's Fight for Gun Safety,” and how the tragedy spurred him to action.

Alison Parker, 24, and her colleague, photojournalist Adam Ward, 27, were fatally shot on August 26, 2015, during a live interview for WDBJ-TV's morning news show.

Hours after Alison Parker was killed, Andy Parker was on television, vowing to fight gun violence. He made many more appearances during the whirlwind media cycle.

"I felt obligated to tell the story and keep the message out there,” he said.

He continues to speak out about gun safety, including in his book. He said writing the book was a trying experience, repeatedly breaking down when writing about his daughter's murder, but he considered it his “mission” to tell the story.

“It was excruciating," he said. "It was agony. It was painful. But I think it was cathartic. It needed to be told."

Parker has called for the passage of red flag laws, which permit the temporary seizure of firearms from people who may be threats to themselves or others. Parker said he believes such a law could have saved Alison’s life.

He also has criticized lawmakers who oppose gun safety legislation.

“As they say, if you can’t change their minds, you change their seats,” Parker said.

He is also pushing Google to do more to remove videos of his daughter's murder from the internet. He saidt the search engine makes it the responsibility of victims to have violent content taken down and that it is making money from her death.

“I’ve taken on the NRA, and while I’m at it, I’m now taking on Google,” he said.

Working toward an end to gun violence has given him a purpose, Parker said. And his daughter continues to guide him.

“She inspires us every day,” Parker said. “We live our lives for her and there’s not an hour in this world that goes by that I don’t think of her. All I want to do is make her proud of me.”