Deadly news crew shooting sparks gun control debate

Deadly news crew shooting sparks gun control debate

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - The deadly news crew shooting is re-igniting a big debate: do we need more gun control?

Alison Parker's father called on "cowardly" politicians to act. The president of Virginia's Citizens Defense League, who says he was once interviewed by the killer, has a much different idea.

"You can't take the guns away from all the criminals," said Philip Van Cleave with the Virginia Citizens Defense League. "If you are thinking you will... you are making a big mistake."

Hours after police say Vester Flanagan gunned down reporter Alison Parker and photographer Adam Ward on live television, Parker's heartbroken father is demanding action.

"Have sensible laws, so that crazy people can't get guns," said Andy Parker.

Walmart just announced plans to stop selling AR-15s and military-style rifles.

"There are things that can be done," said Van Cleave. "But gun control doesn't work."

Walmart suggests the recent mass shootings didn't drive their decision.

"We previously carried MSRs in less than a third of our stores.  Early this Spring we made the decision to no longer carrying those items and instead focus on other hunting and sportsman firearms such as shot guns and rifles based on customer demand," said Walmart spokesman Kory Lundberg. "Our merchandising decisions are driven by largely customer demand. In our everyday course of doing business, we are continually reviewing and adjusting our product assortment to meet our customers' needs."

Van Cleave says he will not argue with Walmart's statement.

"I could argue, maybe they are just trying to look for an excuse to not carry them," said Van Cleave. "But I have no way to prove that."

Gun store owners and advocates say the focus should be on the people holding the guns and not the actual guns.

"Everybody keeps saying 'ban the guns,'" said Richard Hill with Bob Moates Sport Shop. "If they can't get a gun, it's going to be something else. They've still not dealt with the real problem... the mental health problem."

Keep in mind, Flanagan passed his background check. Van Cleave says he was interviewed by Flanagan back in 2012, when he worked at WDBJ. They were doing a story on right to carry laws.

"I had no hint of the evil that was to come out of him. Who would have thought?" said Van Cleave, who suggests reporters should be armed. "News crews go into very dangerous areas... sometimes when the police aren't around. So should you just have to depend on luck to not be killed? I don't think so."

Alison's father says he plans to be the John Walsh of gun control. Stay with NBC12 for updates on this developing story.

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