Published January 21, 2011
It was an uncharacteristically cold, snowy morning on April 16, 2007 as undergraduate Colin Goddard sat inside his second semester French class at Virginia Tech University. Moments later, bullets started showering through the door as student Seung-Hui Cho wandered the corridor, opening fire in a multitude of classrooms.
“He came down each of the rows, and he 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,” Goddard, now 25, recalls in the new documentary “Living for 32,” showing at the Sundance Film Festival. “Then he shot me a third time, in my right shoulder, and it flipped my whole body around and exposed my right side. And I was shot a fourth time, in my right hip."
Thirty-two students and faculty members were killed in the Virginia Tech Massacre. The documentary profiles Goddard’s day-to-day life dealing with that fateful event. But it doesn't cover how he felt after receiving a call from the film’s director Kevin Breslin to inform him of the recent shooting in Tucson, Arizona .
He told FOX411's Pop Tarts he felt a resurgence of the pain he felt in 2007, coupled with nauseating anger.
“I was heading out the door to go and have breakfast with friends when I got a call from the director and I felt so sick I just couldn’t watch, I felt like we were back to square one again,” Goddard said. “Those people wounded, their families – their whole lives have been turned upside down and they have to find a new normal, their lives will never be as it was, and I just hope they can move on and find a new sense of normal.”
Goddard said the Arizona tragedy, in which six people were killed and Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was critically injured, reinforces the message of the film: almost four years after Virginia Tech, why has so little changed in terms of gun control?
“Unfortunately there is a very powerful lobby, the National Rifle Association (NRA) that has a lot of clout over Washington DC and lawmakers that stop any reasonable legislation, they have an absolutist mentality and think we have to put guns everywhere all the time, but that doesn’t make communities safe,” he said. “The NRA has enough resources in their power to make progress on both a state and federal level and their idea of arming themselves is shooting the person before they get shot, but at this point of human discourse can’t we do better than that?”
The NRA did not respond to Pop Tarts' request for comment.
“Living For 32” also goes undercover at gun shows in an attempt to expose how easy it is to purchase weapons without having to provide licenses, identification or a proper criminal background check.
“Particularly my generation doesn’t understand you can literally walk up to a guy at a gun show and give him money and walk away with a gun. These people sell guns like they sell TVs or sofas,” Goddard said. “They don’t care if the person is legally allowed to obtain it; it’s a business that could cost innocent lives if it gets into the hands of the wrong person. Young people don’t realize that there are initiatives and laws that we can pass to promote gun safety without violating constitutional rights.”
Philip Van Cleave, President of the Virginia Citizens Defense League, argues that the shootings at Virginia Tech and in Arizona recently had nothing to do with gun shows or lack of background checks.
“Both shooters had passed background checks successfully, and neither bought from a gun show. But criminals don't bother with background checks. A recent story on guns used to kill police over the last 10 years showed that virtually all of the guns were stolen – no background check required,” Cleave said. “Even if background checks were required on everyone for all sales, it still wouldn't help because the other common source of guns used by criminals is by using a ‘straw purchase’ which is where the criminal sends in a friend, acquaintance, spouse, or other person with a clean background to buy the gun and then hand it over to the criminal later, as was done in Columbine. There is no way to stop such a purchase as the background check will clear every time. The right to bear arms is a protected right and, as with our other freedoms, needs to be as unfettered as possible.”
Goddard hopes “Living For 32” gets the message across that it possible to tighten gun laws while still upholding respect to the Second Amendment.
“I have exercised my Second Amendment rights numerous times through hunting, going to the range, and I was in the army for two years. Nothing in the laws I want passed will stop people from doing those things. Everyone just needs to be held to the same standard and the first step is a thorough background check every time a gun is sold no matter where or why,” he said. “Our goal is not to ban guns from existence in this country – let’s take that argument off the table because we never wanted to do that. We need to reframe the debate and that is what I hope the film does. It’s not about being absolute; it is about doing things in a pragmatic way.”
Deidre Behar contributed to this report.