"We have got to do something about gun violence in America. And I will take it on," Hillary Clinton vowed in the wake of the shooting

By Tierney McAfee
Updated August 27, 2015 02:30 PM
Charles Ommanney/The Washington Post/Getty; Mike Pont/Wireimage

The grieving father of slain WDBJ reporter Alison Parker said Wednesday that he won’t rest until the United States adopts stricter gun laws, promising, “I’m not going to let this issue drop.”

The tragedy in Virginia has spotlighted the divisive and highly politicized gun control issue once again, with Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton taking to Twitter hours after the shooting to say, “Heartbroken and angry. We must act to stop gun violence, and we cannot wait any longer. Praying for the victims’ families in Virginia.”

Clinton also vowed to fight for greater gun control at a campaign event in Ankeny, Iowa, on Wednesday, according to CNN.

“We have got to do something about gun violence in America. And I will take it on,” Clinton told reporters. “It’s a very political, difficult issue in America. But I believe we are smart enough, we are compassionate enough, to figure out how to balance the legitimate Second Amendment rights with preventive measures and control measures so that whatever motivated this murderer who eventually took his own life, we will not see more deaths, needless, senseless deaths.”

On the other side of the aisle, Donald Trump and other GOP candidates said they believed no gun law could have prevented a tragedy like this from happening.

In a new interview with CNN, the GOP front-runner said he wouldn’t do anything differently when it comes to gun control.

“This is really a sick person. This isn’t a gun problem, this is a mental problem,” he said, adding that he’s “a very strong Second Amendment person.”

“This was a very sick man and it’s just too bad that we can’t figure these things out beforehand. Everybody sees the signals they see people and they think they’re disturbed, but what are you going to do, put him in jail for the rest of his life because he looks a little off? He turned out to be very off,” Trump said of the now deceased Virginia shooter Vester Flanagan, 41. “There was tremendous hatred, there was tremendous animosity and he just blew up.”

GOP presidential candidate Marco Rubio echoed Trump’s thoughts at a campaign event in Londonderry, New Hampshire, where he said, “It’s not the guns, it’s the people who are committing these crimes.”

“What law in the world could have prevented him from killing them?” Rubio asked. The Florida senator added that the U.S. can and should, however, take actions to prevent people with mental illness from getting guns.

The majority of the 2016 candidates have not touched on gun control in relation to the shooting, instead taking to social media to express their grief and send condolences to the victims’ families.

Flanagan, a former general assignment reporter at WDBJ, allegedly shot and killed former colleagues Parker and Adam Ward during a live TV broadcast Wednesday morning. Hours later, Flanagan, also known professionally as Bryce Williams, fatally shot himself, leaving behind a manifesto claiming that as a gay black man, he suffered years of racism and homophobia in the workplace. He also expressed his admiration for Seung Hui Cho, who killed 33 people and wounded 17 others at Virginia Tech University in 2007.

Parker’s father, Andy Parker, spoke to Fox News’ Megyn Kelly on The Kelly File Wednesday evening, just hours after his daughter was killed, saying, “Mark my words. My mission in life I’m going to do something, whatever it takes to get gun legislation, to shame people, to shame legislators into doing something about loopholes and background checks and making sure crazy people don’t get guns.”

“This is not the last you’ve heard from me, ” he added. “This is something that is Alison’s legacy that I want to make happen.”