In the continuing discussion on gun violence, parents in Parkland, Florida are dealing with a terrible tragedy in the loss of their children and colleagues. Andy Parker's daughter Alison was shot and killed while working as a reporter in Virginia in 2015 and is now on a mission to make a difference.
"It's heartbreaking to see all these families go through exactly what I've been through and they are now, unfortunately, part of this wretched club that no wasn't wants to join. But it does make me that much angrier, and that more passionate about changing things in this country."
Parker says, unfortunately, that the issue of gun violence has become a partisan issue and not something that both parties can agree on. He blames the NRA who support many Republican politicians.
"This shouldn't be a partisan issue. And I'm afraid it is. These guys are not going to budge. As Allison's boyfriend, Chris Hearst said, and he is now a delegate in the Virginia House of Delegates, you know, this is the Republican's last firearm. They refuse to cooperate on anything. They don't care if these kids die. They don't care if they're not protecting law enforcement. So as long as you have NRA politicians, which is essentially the Republican party, you're not going to get anything done."
Gun control has been a growing issue as voters go to the polls and Parker says this affected the recent election in Virginia.
"I think the tipping point was when we saw the election in Virginia in November, because guns was the number two issue in the campaign and you saw what happened. Republicans got trounced," he said to Ronica and Tom.
Parker says he has faith that there will be change. Even as discussions continue on mental illness and gun ownership, he says the two can coexist and says the child victims of these tragedies will be champions for better gun control legislation.
"I'm convinced that something will happen and you see these kids, they're down there and, you know, as long as they're relentless and they keep at it, and they hold public officials accountable and the main thing is they've got to get their families -- you know, they're not old enough to vote yet, but the people that are affected by this, they need to vote and they need to vote for politicians -- I should say political leaders that are not afraid to tackle the gun issue."
In Alison's memory, the Parkers have established the arts education fund For Alison Foundation to support children in southwest Virginia where Alison was a reporter with TV station WDBJ.
"It's a rural area, there are kids that are very poor and this gives them an opportunity to do things. It's taking them to the Black Friar's Theater, it's taking them to the Roanoke Symphony. It's giving them opportunities to see things that they can't do in school and they just -- or on their own.