His son survived Virginia Tech shooting. Now, he shares fears after Nashville school shooting.

"I don't think now an event is going to make things change. I think it's going to be a national revolution "
Posted at 11:22 PM, Mar 27, 2023

RICHMOND, Va. -- For Andrew Goddard, the memory of April 16, 2007, will never fade. It was a snowy spring day at Virginia Tech when 32 students and faculty were shot and killed by a lone gunman. Andrew’s son, Colin, was one of 17 who survived their gunshot wounds.

"Of course, I will never forget it. I will never forget any of the details of that,” Goddard says. “I will never forget getting his clothes back from police a month after and looking at them, the clothes that were cut off him and looking at the bullet holes.”

On Monday, the scene of yet another mass shooting sent anger and shock waves through the father of two, who has spent the last 16 years fighting for gun laws to help prevent gun violence. Goddard is the legislative director for the Virginia Center for Public Safety.

Three students shot and killed at a Nashville, Tennessee school were just nine years old. Metro Nashville Police identified the children as Evelyn Dieckhaus, Hallie Scruggs and William Kinney. In addition to the students, three staff members at The Covenant School were killed: Cynthia Peak 61, Katherine Koonce, 60, and Mike Hill 61.

"Now I think about my grandchildren," Goddard said. "I don't think now an event is going to make things change. I think it's going to be a national revolution when we get to the point, and I think we're close to it now, where a vast majority of Americans don't want this to keep happening. They want things done differently but their voices aren't being heard.”

On Monday, President Biden called on Congress once again for a ban on assault rifles, a plea that Philip Van Cleave, the president of the Virginia Citizens Defense League, says ignores a larger problem stemming from mental illness, the lack of respect for life, and slack sentencing laws.

"It's a societal problem and a lot of people don't want to face it because that's a very hard thing to do,” Van Cleave says. ”In all different directions right now, the country is upside down and we're paying the price for it.”

According to the Gun Violence Archive, there have been at least 130 mass shootings in the United States so far in 2023. Goddard fears shootings will keep happening if safer gun laws aren't put into place and assault rifles remain in the hands of civilians.

"I know what those parents are going through,” Goddard says. “ I don't know it intimately because I didn't have to go there. I didn't have to see it in the eyes of all the other parents. I was lucky. There are no lucky people today at that school, no lucky people at all.”

A recent study published in the journal JAMA Pediatrics found that homicide is the leading cause of death for children in the United States and the overall rate has increased an average of 4.3% each year for nearly a decade.

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