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Virginia Tech Shooting Survivor Colin Goddard: “The Time Is Now” for Action on Gun Control Laws

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Colin Goddard was shot four times during 2007 Virginia Tech massacre that left 32 people dead. He now works with the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. “It is beyond time to talk about solutions,” Goddard says. “This conversation should have happened before this shooting in the first place. … The missing piece [is] in place in this, which is the public outrage. And it has to be focused directly to your representatives, because they are the ones, literally, with bills at their fingertips right now.” [includes rush transcript]

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This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: In a moment, we’ll be joined by Colin Goddard, shot four times during the 2007 Virginia Tech massacre that left 32 dead. He now works for the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. But first I want to play a clip from the documentary Living for 32, which features Colin Goddard’s story.

COLIN GODDARD: The teacher went to the door to look into the hallway to see what was going on and making all that noise. And as soon as she opened it, she shut it back again and said, “Everyone, get underneath your desks, and somebody call 911.” I pulled out my phone and dialed 911. And I said that “We’re in Norris Hall. I think there’s a shooting going on.” And as soon as I basically got that out, we saw bullets coming through our door. Everyone jumped underneath their desks and went to the floor.

REPORTER: You’re seeing police out with their weapons drawn; students out, looking, trying to see what’s going on, running out of buildings.

COLIN GODDARD: All the major doors to our building were chained shut from the inside, and they had a sign on them, says, “If you open this door, it will explode.”

I came full circle with the situation when I was shot the first time in my left knee. Sure enough, you feel that sensation of a huge push and a sharp sting, and you feel the blood kind of trickle down your leg and you feel it kind of warm on your body.

And then the bangs just got much louder again. You could tell he was back in our room. This time he more methodically came down each of the rows and was still firing. At one point he was standing at my feet. And that’s when I was shot a second time in my left hip.

EYEWITNESS: Some gunshots. Whoa!

COLIN GODDARD: And he shot me a third time in my right shoulder. And then it flipped my whole body around, and that exposed my right side, and I was shot for a fourth time in my right hip. It seems that I only remember a couple more gunshots after that, and then everything got quiet. Just as it all started, it all just stopped.

It just felt like an eternity before the police got to our door and tried to open it up and couldn’t open the door. They had to ask for help from the inside to help them open the door, because there were bodies in the way. And as soon as the police came into the room, they said, “Shooter down.” And that’s when I was like, “Shooter down? What?” I didn’t know that he had committed suicide in the front of our classroom.

Soon after that, the police and the medic staff came in and began their triage of all the students lying on the floor. And I remember hearing them walk up to people, say, “This person is yellow. This person is red.” And then I heard, “Black tag, black tag, black tag.” And that’s when I realized that there were other students in here who didn’t make it.

AMY GOODMAN: That’s Colin Goddard in the film Living for 32, that’s produced by Maria Cuomo Cole and directed by Kevin Breslin. Colin Goddard, survivor of the 2007 Virginia Tech massacre, works at the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.

Colin, welcome to Democracy Now! This slaughter that took place on Friday, at this point the number is 12 dead, scores of people injured, nine of them critically injured. As you campaign on Capitol Hill and around the country, and the discussion is that it’s too early to have this discussion about gun control, and President Obama says that gun control must focus around existing law, not new law, your response?

COLIN GODDARD: That’s the exact same thing people said after the shooting in Tucson, Arizona, last year, and we never had that conversation. We just upped the ante for the worst mass shooting in our country’s history, and now is not the time to talk about solutions? It is beyond time to talk about solutions. This conversation should have happened before this shooting in the first place. It is insane when you hear this from people who say they want to put distance between it. This is when people are outraged. This is when people realize that this could happen to them. I mean, everyone goes to movies. Everybody tries to make opening night. And that’s something that’s relatable to so many Americans. And it’s different this time, because I’m seeing just people talk about this in ways that haven’t been talked about before. Our website has crashed numerous times because of the activity on there. So, I think Americans are ready for this conversation. We do need to have this. We need to talk about what we can change; otherwise, we don’t want this to happen again to somebody else in the future. That’s why we do this.

AMY GOODMAN: Colin, I wanted to read to you from the New York Times piece, “Suspect Bought Large Stockpile of Rounds Online,” and ask you specifically what laws could change this? Is this possible to challenge under existing law? “With a few keystrokes, the suspect, James [E.] Holmes, ordered 3,000 rounds of handgun ammunition, 3,000 rounds for an assault rifle [and] 350 shells for a 12-gauge shotgun — an amount of firepower that costs roughly $3,000 at the online sites — in the four months before the shooting, according to [the] police. It was pretty much as easy as ordering a book from Amazon.

“He also bought bulletproof vests and other tactical gear, [and] a high-capacity 'drum magazine' large enough to hold 100 rounds and capable of firing 50 [or] 60 rounds per minute — a purchase that would have been restricted under proposed legislation that has been stalled in Washington for more than a year.”

How would laws or what you’re pushing for change this? And then also talk about the guns themselves.

COLIN GODDARD: Amy, just eight years ago, no one could walk into a Bass Pro Shop and walk out with an AR-15 and a hundred rounds. All right? That was existing law just eight years ago. We can have that again. It’s insane that we look at these situations and accept them and say—and don’t get outraged that someone can walk out of there ready for military combat, with body armor, with riot helmets, with military weapons that are solely designed to kill as many people as possible. There is no other use for these things, yet we sell them to our general public.

The Americans have a choice, if we want to change this. If we don’t want this to be sold to the average person, they need to get outraged, they need to express their outrage—that’s the missing piece so far—to their representatives directly. They can visit the bradycampaign.org to do that. They can check out “We Are Better Than This” on Facebook and realize that their involvement in this is also going to be what’s going to change the situation so that another American city doesn’t have this happen in a few months from now and we’re back having this same conversation.

AMY GOODMAN: Colin, Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper said Sunday on This Week that even if the suspect, James Holmes, had not had access to guns, he would have found a way to create horror.

GOV. JOHN HICKENLOOPER: This wasn’t a Colorado problem, this is a human problem, right? And how we can have such a warped individual and no one around them be aware—you know, I worry that if we got rid of all the guns—and certainly we have so many guns in this country, and we do have a lot more gun violence than many other countries, but even if he didn’t have access to guns, this guy was diabolical, right? He would have found explosives. He would have found something else, some sort of poisonous gas. He would have found something to create this horror.

AMY GOODMAN: That was the Colorado governor, John Hickenlooper. Colin Goddard, your response?

COLIN GODDARD: First of all, no one is talking about removing everybody’s gun, so I’m not quite sure where he’s coming from, the governor. You know, I’ve heard people say the exact same thing to me in Virginia Tech, that if—you know, if he didn’t have guns, he had a knife, he could have killed these same people. With all due respect, I would have much rather had someone burst in my classroom with a knife than with a Glock.

AMY GOODMAN: So how do you control this? What’s the specific legislation you’ve been pushing for on Capitol Hill? And who are your major opponents? May seem obvious to ask that question in this country, but explain how they fight you, a victim of the Virginia Tech massacre.

COLIN GODDARD: We literally have bills sitting in this Congress right now that would have addressed the issues surrounding this particular incident, and actually issues that happen in shootings that happen every single day. We have bills waiting for votes in both houses that would not allow people to buy this kind of weaponry, would not allow people to buy guns unchecked. You know, we have solutions at our fingertips. It’s just a part of amassing enough old people in a room and all putting their hands up. You know, this is the easy part. We can answer the how. The why is a difficult question. But the how did this happen, how did someone literally kill—you know, shoot 70 people and kill 12 in a matter of seconds, that’s something that we can solve. And it’s going to be done when the American people get a part of this. So please join us. Now is the time. We cannot wait. We cannot have this conversation several months from now, when the next shooting happens. If we don’t change anything, we should not expect things to be different in the future. Now is the time for a change. We are better than this.

AMY GOODMAN: And your major opponents? How powerful is the NRA? When you walk around Congress, have you had debates with them?

COLIN GODDARD: You know, for all the Hill reporters who tell me, you know, “The common political wisdom back in 1994 with supporting gun reforms is not popular,” it’s 2012, man. Like, get a grip. It’s a new country. You know, we have just had someone win the last election cycle in Virginia, Gerry Connolly, because of gun control, because he said, “I don’t think we should have guns in our schools.” I mean, that seems something commonsense. And he won because of that. So the old, antiquated mentality of this little world up here in D.C. is false. The vast majority of American people support specific things. You can’t say, “Do you want more gun control?” What does that mean? I don’t even know what that means. When you say something specific, like “Do you want assault weapons, military weapons to be sold to the general public? Do you want them to be sold without a background check?” Vast majority of people, 90 percent, even gun owners, say, “No! No!” because they understand that’s insane.

So it’s finally putting the missing piece in place in this, which is the public outrage. And it has to be focused directly to your representatives, because they are the ones, literally, with bills at their fingertips right now. And visiting the Brady Campaign is the first step in that process. But please, engage in this process. Have this conversation. If you agree we’re better than this, then go check it out on Facebook and start talking about it.

AMY GOODMAN: Colin Goddard, I want to thank you for being with us, survivor of the 2007 Virginia Tech massacre. He works with the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, one of the survivors. He was shot four times. Thirty-two people were killed.

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