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Change After Tragedy: The Debate Over Gun Control and Mental Health Reform

Published: Nov. 12, 2015 at 12:11 PM EST
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This in-depth report (over 25 minutes) from November of 2015 won an Emmy award in 2016.

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On August 26, 2015, WDBJ journalists Alison Parker and Adam Ward were gunned down on live television at Smith Mountain Lake by a former WDBJ employee.

That employee, Vester Flanagan, was fired from the station in 2013 for what management calls a series of performance issues.

Since the shooting, many people and lawmakers have called for stricter gun laws to try and prevent another shooting. Unlike other shootings, this attack has sparked debates about changes to the mental health system and what employers can know about a person before he or she is hired.

Cathleen Welsh, an employment law attorney in Harrisonburg, said there are many things a potential employer can do to learn more about a potential employee's work history.

  • Look at the employee's work history to see if he or she has had many jobs for a short period of time.
  • Ask the potential employee why he or she left a job, or were the person was asked to leave.
  • Follow up with previous employers to check facts.
  • Ask previous employers if the employee is eligible for re-hire.

Welsh said some of these can be red flags when hiring someone and should be looked at as part of the hiring process.