Tech survivors rally for gun control
Armed with duct tape, Colin Goddard balanced on a chair to hang a screen so people could watch a film at the Richmond YWCA gymnasium.
Goddard appears to be fairly athletic. But four years ago, he was barely able to do one spin on a bicycle because of gunshot injuries he suffered during the shooting rampage at Virginia Tech on April 16, 2007.
Goddard and others gathered in Richmond this week to share their thoughts about gun violence as “Living for 32” – a documentary about the Tech massacre – was screened at the YWCA.
Goddard was one of the people who survived when a fellow Virginia Tech student, Seung-Hui Cho, entered their classroom and began shooting. Cho, who had a history of mental health problems, killed 32 people before killing himself.
Since then, Goddard and other survivors have become activists for gun control.
The film screening in Richmond was organized Monday by the Virginia Center for Public Safety. Colin Goddard’s father, Andrew Goddard, is president of the nonprofit group.
Gun control is the subject of debate in the General Assembly as the 2011 legislative session gets under way. It’s also a national issue after a gunman killed six people and wounded a dozen, including U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, in Arizona on Jan. 8.
Several bills before the assembly would relax existing firearms laws. Some would make it easier to get a permit to carry a concealed weapon, prohibit the state from restricting firearms or exempt guns made in Virginia from federal regulation. The Virginia Center for Public Safety opposes such measures.
The center supports bills that would provide more gun control. One measure, for example, would require criminal background checks before people can buy firearms at gun shows. Other would ban firearms from libraries, the Capitol and the General Assembly Building.
“They have to keep guns out of the State Capitol,” Andrew Goddard said. “We don’t want consequences.”
To underscore how lax existing laws are, Colin Goddard goes to gun shows and demonstrates that he can buy weapons with cash – and without an ID or background check.
The film screening at the YWCA drew an audience of concerned citizens and victims and survivors of gun violence.
Omar Samaha, a Virginia Tech graduate, joined Colin Goddard in presenting the film and answering questions from the audience.
Samaha’s sister, Reema Samaha, was killed during the Virginia Tech shooting. Samaha now works with Students for Gun Free Schools, a grass-roots campaign to ban concealed weapons from college campuses. The campaign was started in honor of Samaha’s sister.
“Students feel they need to carry because they don’t feel safe ... it is a variety of social issues,” Samaha said.
The film recalls events that happened nearly four years ago. For many in attendance, the emotions were as raw as if the ordeal happened yesterday.
Alex Evans was the chaplain for the Blacksburg police and pastor at Blacksburg Presbyterian Church. He was present the day of the shootings and said the film carried him back to the day.
“I felt a very emotional response,” Evans said. “But also very logical and practical. [Colin Goddard] is calling on us to improve our law and society.”
Goddard says he is not anti-gun; however, he believes society needs more control over violent weapons.
“Living for 32” will premiere at the Sundance Film Festival in Utah at the end of January and at Virginia Tech in February. Students can request the film to be shown at their university.
To learn more about “Living for 32,” visit the documentary’s website, http://livingfor32.com/
The Richmond West Breakfast Lions Club (based in western Henrico) recently donated 59 backpacks to the Westover Hills Elementary School on Jahnke Road.
Above, club members display some of the backpacks prior to their distribution. > Read more.
Thanks to a first-place win in The American Protege International Vocal Competition 2014, Glen Allen High School student Matija Tomas will travel to New York City to perform at Carnegie Hall in December.
At the first-place winners recital in Weill Hall, Matija will perform Giacomo Puccini’s opera aria, “Chi il bel sogna di doretta.” She will perform with other vocalists from around the world and have the opportunity to win other awards and scholarships.
Locally, Thomas has performed with Richmond’s renowned Glorious Christmas Nights, Christian Youth Theatre, and WEAG’s Urban Gospel Youth Choir. > Read more.
The John Rolfe YMCA and Gayton Baptist Church have partnered in an effort to bring greater health and wellness opportunities to the community.
Through this partnership, the John Rolfe Y will run Youth Winter Sports programs, including basketball and indoor soccer, in Gayton’s newly renovated $5.5 million outreach center that features a new gymnasium, youth and teen space, social space with café, meeting space and full service commercial kitchen. > Read more.
CAT Theatre will hold auditions for Book of Days on Sunday, Oct. 26 and Monday, Oct. 27, at 7 p.m. each day. Auditions will be held at CAT Theatre, 319 North Wilkinson Road in Henrico. Book of Days will run Jan. 23-Feb. 7 and is one of CAT’s submissions to the Acts of Faith Festival.
Book of Days, by Pulitzer Prize winner Lanford Wilson is an exploration of faith, justice, and corruption, amidst the backdrop of murder – and community theatre – in small town America. Book of Days was first written for and produced by Jeff Daniels Purple Rose Theatre Company of Michigan.
Director Leslie Cline is seeking five females between the ages of 20-65 and seven males between the ages of 24-65. > Read more.
CAT Theatre’s 51st season will open with Sherlock Holmes: The Final Adventure, which will run Oct. 24 through Nov. 8. The play is based on the original 1899 play by William Gillette and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and adapted by Steven Dietz, and was the winner of the 2007 Edgar Award for Best Mystery Play.
The story follows Holmes, whose career as the world’s greatest detective seems to have reached its end until he is confronted with a case far too tempting to ignore. When the King of Bohemia faces blackmail by famed opera singer, Irene Adler, Holmes and his companion Dr. Watson find themselves falling into the trap of evil genius Professor Moriarty. > Read more.
Find out how your favorite dining establishments fared during their most recent inspections by the Virginia Department of Health. > Read more.
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