AUSTIN (AP) – Colin Goddard, who was shot four times during the Virginia Tech rampage and survived by playing dead, urged Texas lawmakers on Thursday not to allow concealed handguns in college classrooms.
He and John Woods, another former Virginia Tech student whose girlfriend was among the more than 30 people killed in the April 2007 carnage, were at the Capitol to fight against guns on campus bills pending in the House and Senate. Texas campuses are currently gun-free zones
Supporters call the bill an important gun-rights issue and a matter of self-defense. In September, a University of Texas student opened fire on campus before eventually turning the gun on himself. No one else was hurt.
Opponents argue that bringing guns into classrooms will only make campuses more dangerous.
“I was there that day. It was the craziest day of my life with one person walking around with two guns,” Goddard said. “I can’t even imagine what it would have been like with multiple students and multiple guns.”
Bleeding from his wounds, Goddard stayed on the floor of his class to avoid getting shot again as he listened to the gunman empty his clip, reload and fire again. It was the worst mass shooting in modern U.S. history.
Texas has allowed concealed handgun licenses since 1995. Residents must be at least 21 years old and pass a training course and a criminal background check.
Goddard is now an activist for the Brady Campaign Against Gun Violence. He says Texas lawmakers should require stronger background checks for gun sales and require schools to have better mental health programs and more efficient alert systems to help avoid situations like the Virginia Tech shootings.
Sen. Jeff Wentworth, a San Antonio Republican who has filed a version of the bill, has said he doesn’t want Texas students to be “sitting ducks” if someone started shooting in a classroom.
“The only option now is to hide behind their desks or play dead,” David Burnett, spokesman for Students for Concealed Carry on Campus, said this week. The group claims more than 44,000 members across the country and is lobbying the guns on campus issue in several states.
Goddard acknowledged the Brady Campaign will have a tough fight stopping the Texas bill.
The Senate passed the bill in 2009 but it languished in the final days of the House without a vote. This year, the bill has at least 80 co-authors in the 150-member House. Wentworth said he’s optimistic he can pass the bill and send it to Gov. Rick Perry, who has said he supports allowing concealed handguns on campuses.
“We know there’s strong support for this idea. We can’t deny that,” Goddard said. “We press on.”
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