Colin Goddard, a survivor of the infamous Virginia Tech Massacre, recently visited the Stanford campus to exhibit his memories of the horrific event. His exhibition came in the form of a new documentary entitled Living for 32.
Describing the film, Goddard said, “This film is dedicated to the 32 people who were killed at Virginia Tech, but this film is also dedicated to the 32 people who are killed every day in this country on average.”
As one of the deadliest single-shooter shootings in history, the Virginia Tech massacre was a major tragedy. International media exposure generated powerful debate over American gun control policy immediately following the episode.
Goddard, after surviving the shooting, has since become a major advocate for harsher gun control policy in America, especially on college campuses.
In light of recent Stanford campus incidents such as the “hot prowl,” which involved a break-in, the issue of gun control is especially pertinent for Stanford students.
According to Goddard, many people say that they would have felt prepared and able to save innocent lives in the Virginia Tech shooting had they been there and been in possession of a firearm. But to him, “It’s an insult when people say that.” He said that the argument is “absolutely ridiculous.”
“If Gabrielle Giffords had a gun that day, things wouldn’t have been any different,” Goddard said in reference to the recent Arizona shooting.
Goddard is fiercely opposed to having guns on campus. However, he did make the statement in the film, “I am more likely to own a gun in my home in the future.” When questioned about the difference between owning a gun on campus as opposed to owning one at home, Goddard responded, “There are responsible gun owners out there, so that statement was a way to say, ‘Hey, I understand you.’”
But Goddard went on to further qualify this statement, saying, “That statement will be edited out [of the documentary]… I said that statement at a very emotional time when I was trying to relate to another group.”
Stanford senior, Iheoma Umez-Eronini, commented, “I think the current restrictions are pretty satisfactory. I don’t see any need to relax them – perhaps in some cases for them to be a bit more stringent.”
When asked about the effects of gun control on “hot prowl” incidents on campus, Umez-Eronini said, “On one hand, perhaps it might not have happened [if the student had a gun], but you might instead have had an accidental shooting of a student by another student. So you kind of have a trade-off between what you would prefer, whether you have maybe more accidents or higher rates of tension or conflict arising in students, or whether you want to prevent the handful of burglaries or things that occur.”
In contrast, Stanford senior Erica Morgan, responded “yes” when asked if she was okay with students and professors possessing guns on campus. However, she also adds the “major caveat” would be that guns are only permitted to “students who are thoroughly screened, trained, and do not make a show of it.”
“It’s not something that needs to be out in a really public form,” Erica added. But she thinks these concealed weapons could have changed the circumstances in recent incidents, saying, “Somebody is less likely to pull a gun in a situation like Virginia Tech if there are armed people to defend themselves.”
She continued, arguing that guns should be allowed on campus “if not for protection, for prevention.”
Goddard disagrees with this notion, stating, “Instead of working to put two guns in that classroom that day, I’d much rather work to stop the one from ever getting there in the first place.”
Goddard and Morgan do agree on one point – that more education is needed about guns. “Part of the problem is that people don’t know enough about firearms,” Morgan said.