Picture a father and son who are very close, after many years of sharing sports, world travel and other interests. Imagine a father and son, good buddies, who talk freely and often about anything -- everything. It is April 2007 and the son is lying in a hospital bed with four gunshot entry wounds and a single exit wound.
The father is sitting at the bedside looking at the tubes and pipes running to various parts of his son's body. Complex machines are humming and beeping as they supply the fluids, oxygen and medicines the son's body needs. But for hours and days, his open wounds continue to bleed. Sandbags are piled against the wounds to stem the bleeding, but the starched white sheets and pillow slowly turn to dull red.
The son doesn't talk much as he sleeps, with his father at his side thinking of so many questions: How did this happen? What circumstances caused this terrible event? Who was the shooter? Where did he get his guns and what made him want to murder all those people? What could have been done to prevent him, prevent this almost unspeakable horror?
Fast forward a couple of months and the son is working hard to walk again. The father watches proudly as he did when this same process happened all those years before, when the son was just 11 months old.
Where do we go from here?
The father and son have spent many hours searching for answers to what happened on that cold windy day in Blacksburg, Virginia. What happened with the tormented soul that finally snapped and murdered and maimed so many wonderful people?
The son's determination to walk is also reflected in his determination to do something to help prevent others from experiencing the nightmare that took 32 people on the campus; the nightmare he so fortunate to survive.
The father is Andrew Goddard and the son is Colin Goddard and that story is what brought us to this point; and to this blog.
Several years have passed and we studied hard to find out more about the relationship between guns, violence and the law. We have both worked hard to understand all sides of the arguments over gun rights and gun owners' responsibilities. We have met with legislators, law enforcement, other victims and their families and listened to countless gun owners talk about their fundamental rights. We have even visited gun shows and observed sales from both licensed dealers and so-called private collectors.
Our work recently inspired filmmakers to make Colin's story the subject of a new documentary, Living for 32, which has been accepted for competition in the Short Films category at the Sundance Film Festival and is being screened at select venues around the country.
Perhaps, not strangely, we share the same opinions on what needs to be done. We agree that too many Americans are being killed and injured because of gun violence. And while many gun owners are responsible and law-abiding, if it wasn't for the fact that so many gun owners seem obsessed with the idea that "powerful forces are working to disarm all Americans," we would not spend even a moment's thought on this ridiculous idea. What we do spend our time analyzing is how guns are diverted from the possession of legal and safe owners to the hands of dangerous and illegal owners.
In future blogs we will talk about all aspects of the gun debate starting with the flow of guns between the legal and illegal markets and suggest ways that this flow could be diminished. We'll also comment occasionally on other areas that are connected, yet often drowned out in conversations about gun violence, such as mental health, school and university policies, and America's culture of violence in general.
It may be a long road and a rough ride at times, but I hope you will come along with us and see where the road takes us.
Colin Goddard is the Assistant Director of Federal Legislation for the Brady Campaign.
Andrew Goddard is the President of the Richmond, VA Chapter of the Million Mom March.
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