Indiana Daily Student

Civic Leaders to screen 'Living for 32'

For nine and a half minutes, Colin Goddard and his classmates hid under desks during their morning French class at Virginia Tech.

Goddard was shot four times during the Virginia Tech shooting April 16, 2007, that took the lives of 32 students.

He was one of seven survivors from his intermediate French class.

Years later, as he researched the issue, Goddard said he was shocked to learn criminal background checks were not required on every gun purchase in the U.S.

Since then, Goddard has made gun violence prevention advocacy his life’s work. He first joined the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence after being hired by IU professor and Civic Leaders Living Learning Center Director Paul Helmke, who at the time was also working at the Brady Campaign.

Helmke and the IU Civic Leaders LLC, along with Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, are now bringing Goddard to Bloomington for a screening of “Living for 32,” a documentary based on Goddard’s experiences and 
advocacy.

“Part of what I try to do with the Civic Leaders Center is to inspire students to get involved with whatever their issue is,” Helmke said. “I think Colin is a great example of how an individual can go out there and try to make a difference with 
issues.”

The documentary being shown at the Buskirk-Chumley Theater at 3 p.m. Sunday will be followed by a discussion with Goddard, who is now a senior policy advocate for Everytown For Gun Safety, an organization that promotes an end to gun violence and safer 
communities.

Helmke will introduce Goddard after the screening for the discussion and a question-and-answer 
session.

Rachel Guglielmo said she hopes Goddard’s talk can help inform Bloomington residents and inspire them to take action.

“Colin is an example,” Guglielmo said. “He’s a living example of someone who is doing something about this, trying to prevent it from happening in the 
future.”

Goddard said he considers himself lucky.

“I did nothing different than everyone else in that classroom,” Goddard said. “We didn’t really have anywhere to go. We just tried to jump underneath the desks that were there. I was just one of the incredibly lucky people to have been shot four times but survive.”

Students in other classrooms barricaded doors and looked to windows for escape. Some made the jump, breaking legs and ankles as they fell on the hard concrete two stories below.

Goddard said he’s glad he didn’t make that jump. Instead, he hid in his classroom through nearly 10 minutes of constant gunfire. Goddard said it felt like hours.

“It was the most terrifying experience I’ve ever had,” he said.

After the shooting, Goddard spent six days in the hospital and weeks recovering physically, mentally and emotionally.

Only one of the bullets that hit Goddard struck bone and shattered.

The other three still remain in his body, two in his hips and one above his left knee.

He has a titanium rod in the bone of his left leg.

He went through physical therapy to learn how to walk again and group therapy with survivors from his class who could relate to what had happened.

“I think because the physical recovery went really well, my mental and emotional recovery followed,” Goddard said.

However, upon returning to classes, Goddard said he was a more jumpy person. Slamming doors and loud noises startled Goddard and other survivors in his classes.

Goddard entered college as an ROTC cadet studying physics before withdrawing from ROTC and changing his focus to international studies before the shooting. When Goddard graduated a year after the shooting, he was unsure of what he 
wanted to do.

It wasn’t until the shootings at the American Civic Association immigration center in Binghamton, New York, on April 3, 2009 — the first live coverage of a mass shooting he had followed since Virginia Tech — that Goddard felt drawn to 
action.

As he watched images of police cars and ambulances, yellow tape, candles and crying, Goddard said he thought of the 13 families that were then beginning day one of coping with their tragedy.

Feeling hopeless and tired of seeing media and politicians “mostly talking in circles,” Goddard said he became increasingly interested in gun violence 
prevention.

“When you have any sort of traumatic experience that comes out of left field and turns everything upside down, you try to answer why did this happen,” Goddard said. “And when I realized that the person who committed this horrible crime killed himself in front of my classroom, I realized we’ll never really know why.”

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