April 16, 2007 was a date that changed the nation as well as Colin Goddard’s life; that day Virginia Tech shooter Seung-Hui Cho fatally shot 32 faculty members and students and wounded 17, including Goddard, before turning the gun on himself. Seven years later Goddard speaks across the U.S. not just about the largest shooting by a single gunman in U.S. history, but he spoke about the need for gun control. On Thursday evening he spoke at the Marvin Center Amphitheater.
Before Goddard spoke, the audience watched Living For 32, a documentary about his experience of the massacre at his school, and his advocacy for promoting gun control. The title of the documentary is significant not only because 32 people were shot during the massacre, but because that is the average number of Americans shot everyday.
In the documentary, he is seen taking raw video footage as he is purchasing guns to prove how accessible it is to purchase a gun without showing much identification such as a driver’s license.
After the documentary, Goddard briefly spoke to the audience about his advocacy work such as being part of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. According to Goddard, after the massacre he wanted to “help bring light to the greater tragedy” of everyday gun violence.
“We will all have tragedy… How we take those events and come out of it,” was his overall message.
Goddard also worked with the Brady Campaign and the Brady Bill, which was passed in 1994 calling for federal background checks on firearm purchasers in the United States. According to Goddard, it has stopped 2 million gun transactions. However, he said the “system isn’t working properly.”
Goddard explained that Virginia Tech never received the file transfer error of one of Cho’s records. He stressed a call to action to expand background checks regarding gun purchases. Nonetheless, he acknowledged there is “no one thing” that will stop such tragedies.
Following Goddard’s speech, there was a panel discussion on gun violence moderated by student, Spencer Legred. It consisted of Goddard, GW students, Sean Kumnick and Willy Hanna, and Georgetown University student Sarah Clements, whose mother survived the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting in 2012.
The event was sponsored by the GW Program Board along with the Virginia and Maryland chapters of Moms Demand Action, a gun control advocacy movement.