Could a cold blooded on-air killing finally drive change in America’s gun laws?

A pretty young news journalist is conducting an interview live on air when she sees a man walking towards he. He wants to hurt her and he aims a gun straight at her face. What happens next has shocked the world but sadly, it’s not the first time and may not be the last if America does what they usually do – ignore it.

Sadly, Virginia WDBJ7 local journalist Alison Parker, 24 was not the only person killed in this senseless attack – cameraman Adam Ward, 27, was also shot at close range.

Even worse, Mr Ward’s fiancee was in the studio watching the events play out in front of her face.

The gunman was identified as Vester Flanagan, 41, according to a dispatcher for the Augusta County Sheriff’s Department, and is known to staff at the station… he was a former employee.

It was WDBJ’s early-morning newscast and everything was going smoothly until the gunman closed in from behind.

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Several shots were heard as Ward’s camera fell to the floor, capturing an image of the gunman, who later shot himself and was pronounced dead at hospital.

It was thought that Flanagan was a disgruntled employee and felt discriminated against because he was African-American and a homosexual.

Later, a disturbing video posted on Twitter, showed a POV video of the shooter aiming at Parker, who was unaware of his presence.

Flanagan shot himself as Virginia State Police were chasing him down a highway.

“Minutes later, the suspect’s vehicle ran off the road and crashed. The troopers approached the vehicle and found the male driver suffering from a gunshot wound,” police said in a statement.

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He was taken to a nearby hospital where he died, police said.

This shooting follows a seemingly endless list this year, with it feeling like every week, there is another shooting in America. And it’s backed up by statistics – there’s really no denying America is leading the world in amounts of mass shootings and gun violence.

Adam Lankford, a criminal justice professor at the University of Alabama, compiled data from 171 countries, and found that the United States had by far the most public mass shooters, with 90 during a 46-year period. That’s five times as many as the next country on the list: the Philippines, with 18. In other words, although the US accounts for less than five per cent of the world’s population, it had 31 per cent of mass shootings between 1966 and 2012.

According to Mass Shooting Tracker, a crowdsourced database that tracks shootings, since the Sandy Hook Elementary School killings in December 2012 there have been at least 864 shootings in the US, with shooters killing at least 1,125 people and wounding 3,097 more.

So what really can be done? America is close with Australia, yet this morning Tony Abbott said in response to the latest news that he hadn’t discussed domestic politics with the US: “We have very strict laws in this country, much stricter gun laws than they have in the US,” he told Sunrise. “That is why gun crime here is not nearly as extensive, and not nearly as dramatic as it is in America”.

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“When I’m in the US I’m normally talking about economic growth and national security and international security and, to be honest, I don’t normally get into the domestic politics of the United States. I have over the years discussed this kind of thing with American friends and it seems there is just a different way of thinking about guns there. Thank god we don’t have it in this country”. Is that good enough?

Barack Obama is yet to make a statement – but then again, can he really say more than he has before without really cracking down on these crazed gunmen?


We want to know today: do you think this latest incident will finally wake America up to their gun problem? Should they adopt our laws? Or is this just another statistic?