Meet the Mother of the Reporter Tragically Gunned Down on Live TV
Barbara stayed behind in Virginia to take care of the administrative details of burying her daughter, but she wrote an op-ed in the Washington Post calling on her local legislators, Rep. Bob Goodlatte and state Sens. John Edwards and William Stanley Jr., to consider sensible restrictions on firearms.
Nine months later, the Parkers’ appeals haven’t gained traction with their elected officials, and their activism has alienated close friends. “Southern Virginia is a very conservative area, and the NRA has done a really, really good job of marketing and telling people, You’ve got to protect your family. You’ve got to have these guns to protect your family,” Parker says.
The opposition the Parkers have encountered is all the more striking considering how modest their goals are: They want universal background checks and longer waiting periods to purchase a gun.
“A lot of [legislators] say, Well, it wouldn’t have saved your daughter’s life to have background checks,” Parkers says. “My response is: If it saves one life, is it not worth it? To try to do something? To save even one life? You can’t save everybody, but that’s not a reason to not save anybody.”
Last year, Alison planned a Mother’s Day trip for Barbara, Andy and her boyfriend, Chris. “We all went out to a vineyard out in the Blue Ridge Mountains and they had a food and wine tasting and we just hiked with the dogs,” Parker recalls. “It was just one of those really special kind of days, and I’m just so glad that we had that.”
This year, she’ll spend Mother’s Day weekend in New York City with the group Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. She’ll be one of hundreds of mothers, fathers, siblings and friends who have lost someone to gun violence marching across the Brooklyn Bridge on Saturday to rally in front of City Hall.
This is the fourth year the organization has staged this march. It was first held in 2013, one month after the Sandy Hook massacre. In the wake of the demonstration, New York State passed the SAFE Act, controversial legislation that strengthened assault-weapon regulations, banned high-capacity magazines and created provisions to take guns out of the hands of individuals with mental illnesses.
Parker holds no illusions that such a far-reaching law might be passed in Virginia anytime soon, but she’s hopeful change will come incrementally.
“It’s not going to happen overnight. It’s like marriage equality, it’s like seat belts — ‘Seat Belts Save Lives’ — and smoking. There are so many things that have taken years to change attitudes about, and I don’t think this is any different.
“The biggest difference is the number of people killed by gun violence continues to grow,” she says. “And we just — we have to do something.”