After Tucson, victim of Virginia Tech shooting asks: 'How many is it going take?'

Colin Goddard, shot four times in the Virginia Tech massacre, now works for the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence.
Colin Goddard, shot four times in the Virginia Tech massacre, now works for the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence. (Bill O'leary - Washington Post)
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, January 20, 2011; 11:36 PM

"Yeah, yeah, yeah," he would hear, one navy blue suit nodding to another.

They would listen to what Colin Goddard had to say, shake his hand, then open the door for the next Washington lobbyist or constituent.

See, Goddard doesn't really warrant a second glance on Capitol Hill. He's a tall, well-spoken, broad-shouldered 25-year-old with a good suit and purposeful handshake. Plus, the arguments he was peddling on sensible gun control had been heard before.

But as Goddard was giving his earnest, wonky spiel about banning the kind of magazines that Jared Loughner allegedly used to spray gunfire in Tucson or requiring background checks on people who buy weapons at gun shows, those listening didn't know there were three bullets painfully worming their way through his body.

If he wriggled in his seat too much, it hurt. And if you touched his skin in a certain spot, you could feel the outline of one of the 9mm hollow-points poking through.

So after trying to play it straight for a while - just another young climber doing his time in the marbled halls of Congress - Goddard realized that he had to speak up about why he cared so deeply about this issue.

"The whole dynamic changed once I told them," Goddard said.

He told them what it felt like to be in French class at Virginia Tech on April 16, 2007, conjugating verbs one minute, then trapped in what looked like a bloody war movie the next.

He told them how feels to be shot four times - left knee, left hip, right shoulder, right hip. (No pain, at first. Just the trickle of blood.)

He told them what it's like to see a pile of bodies so high, the police can't open the door.

And he told them that the 32 people killed at his college that day by Seung Hui Cho might still be alive if it hadn't been so easy for Cho to get the semiautomatic handguns he used.

Gun control activists are often grieving parents, a Million Moms marching. Rarer among their ranks: a 6-foot-3 guy with a high and tight haircut and an easy way with a shotgun.

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