Journalists killed, mourned

The world is again left in utter shock after two WDBJ journalists were shot and killed during a live broadcast at approximately 6:45 a.m. Wednesday. 

Alison Parker, 24, and photographer Adam Ward, 27, were reporting on a local story outside Moneta, Va., when former WDBJ reporter Vester Flanagan opened fire on Parker. 

Parker and Ward are the seventh and eighth journalists to be killed in the U.S. since 1992, and the first journalists to be killed since Chauncey Bailey, former editor-in-chief of the Oakland Post in Oakland, Calif., was shot on his way to work in 2007, according to The Washington Post.

The station cut back to the studio, where an anchor, Kimberly McBroom, expressed the same emotion as all those staring back at the screen: shock. 

“You know, you send people into war zones, you send people into dangerous situations and into riots, and you worry that they are going to get hurt,” Marks said, according to CNN. “You send somebody out to do a story on tourism and – how can you expect something like this to happen?”

The tragic deaths of Parker and Ward are just two examples of deaths caused by firearms in the United States. In fact, most homicides in the U.S. are committed “with firearms, especially handguns,” according to the National Institute of Justice. It added that in 2011, “firearms were used in 68 percent of murders, 41 percent of robbery offenses and 21 percent of aggravated assaults nationwide.” 

The topic of gun control has been a hot one in politics in recent years, and Parker and Ward’s deaths are already beginning to turn up the heat. However, more can be done to curtail firearm-related deaths and crimes while public policy is considered.

Wal-Mart, the top seller of guns and ammunition in the U.S., announced Wednesday that it will stop all sales of military-style semi-automatic rifles, including AR-15s. The company said the decision was unrelated to recent killings involving rifles; however, the decision may help to decrease the number of future incidents.

The Penn staff mourns the loss of these two young journalists and honor their contributions to journalism. Just as Parker and Ward worked to shed light on the issues, we ask that their deaths may also help to bring about change.