WASHINGTON (AP) — The father of Virginia shooting victim Alison Parker trekked to Capitol Hill Thursday to urge lawmakers to defy the powerful gun lobby and pass legislation to strengthen background checks for gun purchasers.
Andy Parker told a rally that "we can, we must, and we will" prevail over opponents of new background check legislation, such as the National Rifle Association. Parker's daughter and WDBJ-TV cameraman Adam Ward were ambushed and fatally shot during a live television interview last month at a community outside Roanoke.
"Too many members of Congress remain in the pocket of the gun lobby," Parker told a rally organized by Moms Demand Action, a pro-gun control group. "That has got to change."
Parker was joined at the rally by Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe and the state's two senators. They urged Congress to revisit a failed 2013 vote on legislation requiring background checks for online gun sales and purchases at gun shows. That measure, by Sens. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., and Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., failed to garner a filibuster-proof 60 votes amid opposition by most Republicans and a handful of pro-gun rights Democrats.
The 2013 vote, conducted when Democrats held the Senate, came after the a mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., in which a mentally ill man fatally shot 20 children and six staff members. Failure to adopt the Toomey-Manchin legislation demonstrated yet again the enduring power of the gun rights lobby. Participant in Thursday's rally acknowledged they face an uphill task.
"Can't we at least take a first step in terms of background checks?" Warner said.
McAuliffe lamented that he had sent a package of gun-related legislation to the GOP-held Virginia legislature where it died in a Senate committee. He sought to renew the state's one-per-month limit of handgun purchases, require background checks at gun shows and bans guns from those under restraining orders.
"I am sick and tired of gutless politicians who are scared of the NRA," McAuliffe said.