On April 17, 2007, Colin Goddard sat in his intermediate French class like he always did on Tuesday. Goddard and his friend and fellow classmate, Kristina Anderson, contemplated skipping class that day for breakfast.
Little did they know that Tuesday would become a moment of impact in their lives.
April 17 was the day of the Virginia Tech shooting and Goddard, along with seven other of his classmates, were the only ones to survive the shooting out of a class of 17. Goddard was shot four times and underwent physical therapy for several months before recovering.
“I was in disbelief,” Goddard said. “I just couldn’t understand what was happening. You just don’t expect a guy to walk in and start shooting in your French class at 9 a.m. on a small, rural campus.”
Goddard returned to Virginia Tech to finish his degree and graduated in 2008. After graduating, Goddard began volunteering for the Brady Campaign to End Gun Violence. Goddard did not want this tragedy to break him, but instead, inspire him to do something about keeping guns out of the hands of dangerous people.
Goddard has visited many institutions and universities across the nation to show his film Living For 32, which tells Goddard’s story and highlights the Virginia Tech Shooting. The film shows just how easy it is for people to purchase guns.
“I think going to college campuses and talking about what happened at Virginia Tech and talking to other students, helps me personally on a level, to take something bad and put it towards something good and to teach others about the realities of gun violence,” Goddard said.
Maine Moms Demand Action and Maine Athletes Against Violence partnered together to bring Goddard to the University of Maine on March 23 in Donald P. Corbett Hall to present his film and to have a discussion on gun violence and the importance of background checks for every gun sale.
Chief Sean Geagan of the Bucksport Police Department joined Goddard to discuss gun violence specifically in Maine. The initiative of this event coming to campus was to educate students and community members about gun violence and to discuss the Background Check Initiative making it’s way to the November ballot in Maine.
“Current laws in Maine require only background checks for guns purchased from dealers with federal firearms licenses,” Geagan said. “People can easily, anonymously, purchase guns from unlicensed sellers who could be from Craigslist or any gun show, and it is completely legal without a background check.”
Allowing this initiative would join Maine with the 18 other states who require background checks for every gun sale.
“Between 2006 and 2014, over 1,500 guns purchased in the state of Maine, were recovered by law enforcement officers in other states,” Geagan said.
Goddard believes that this background check initiative is a vital step in greatly minimizing gun violence and keeping guns out of the hands of unsafe people, like the Virginia Tech shooter who was deemed mentally unsafe to himself and others.
Joining Goddard in the discussion was Judith and Wayne Richardson, the citizen sponsors of the background checks ballot in Maine. In 2010, the Richardsons lost their daughter, Darian, at the age of 25 due to gun violence.
“We thought the best way to speak out for Darian, and other victims of gun violence, by doing something about it and closing those loopholes,” Richardson said. “Maine has a glaring loophole.”
Goddard does not plan to do this for the rest of his life, but he does hope to see this major change happen.
“This helped to give clarity and direction to a kid who was about to graduate college without that,” Goddard said. “I hope that it can be an example to some that you can overcome adversity and find ways to bring about good from something so bad.”