The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

VA Tech Survivor Tracks Shady Gun Sellers With Hidden Camera


A critically wounded Virginia Tech student started turning his
personal experience into a campaign for the public good this past
summer. By buying a small arsenal of assault weapons and handguns with
cash at gun shows without Brady background checks - and with a hidden
camera recording the transactions - Colin Goddard wanted to document
how easy and unchecked it all was. His goal: to get Congress to close
the loophole that allows many dangerous people to purchase dangerous
weapons at gun shows without a Brady background check.

the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence released a five-minute video
with highlights of Goddard's up close and personal experience with gun
shows in states that don't regulate private sales. The video is at

is time - actually, way past time - for America to close the loophole
that allows people who can't legally buy a gun from a gun dealer to
literally buy one in the back corner of the same convention center,"
said Colin Goddard, 24. "What happened to me at Virginia Tech on April
16, 2007 was horrible. But I'm determined to do something about it and
turn this negative experience into a positive one."

Teaming up
with in-state residents to ensure that the buyers didn't break the law,
Goddard captured footage of shamefully easy gun purchases. ("There's no
tax! There's no paperwork! That's worth something!" hawked one
seller.) The buyers didn't even have to show a driver's license or any
ID. After each visit, Goddard and his companions turned the guns over
to local police.

"Colin Goddard is an amazing young man,"
said Paul Helmke, President of the Brady Campaign. "And he has an
amazing story to tell."

A separate film, an interview with Goddard about the shooting, is available for view at

was shot multiple times at Virginia Tech. He was so moved by his
experience he became an activist for sensible gun laws. He joined the
Washington, D.C.-based Brady Campaign first as a volunteer, later as a
staff member. Driven to tell his story firsthand, he was given a
modest budget and a hidden camera and traveled to eight cities in five
states, visiting gun shows in places where the state does nothing to
require Brady criminal background checks for "private sales."

Goddard's plea: that the United States Congress close the "gun show
loophole" that enables unlicensed sellers to trade guns for cash with
practically no questions asked. Bills have been introduced in the U.S.
House, by Representatives Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY) and Michael Castle
(R-DE), and in the U.S. Senate by Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ). "The
Brady Campaign is committed to working with Colin Goddard and other
allies to pass this legislation," Helmke said.

The Brady
Campaign plans to share Goddard's story with thousands of activists and
urge them to share it farther. The goal is a viral campaign to advance
efforts to pass legislation to close the gun show loophole. The
campaign seeks to:

  • Secure a significant number of co-sponsors of gun show loophole legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives;
  • Present a petition supported by thousands and thousands of
    Americans to Congress, focusing on the five months between now and
    April 16, 2010, the third anniversary of the Virginia Tech massacre.

Only seven out of 50 states have completely closed the gun show
loophole. Ten other states have taken limited steps. The Brady Law
requires criminal background checks of gun buyers at federally licensed
gun dealers, but unlicensed private sellers are not required to do
background checks. This loophole causes particular problems at gun
shows, which give these unlicensed sellers a venue, advertising and
customers. In most states convicted felons, domestic violence abusers,
and those who are dangerously mentally ill can walk into any gun show
and buy weapons from unlicensed sellers, who operate week-to-week with
no established place of business, with no questions asked.

Columbine killers used two shotguns, an assault rifle and a TEC-9
assault pistol to shoot 26 students in April 1999, killing 13. All four
guns came from gun show sales. Their friend, Robyn Anderson, bought
three of the guns for them from unlicensed sellers at a gun show. After
the massacre, Ms. Anderson stated that had she been required to undergo
a background check, she would not have purchased the guns.

dangerous people such as convicted felons and domestic abusers to buy
guns at gun shows from unlicensed sellers without a Brady criminal
background check threatens the safety of our families and communities.

learned about the many issues that surround the shooting at Virginia
Tech, including school policies and mental health issues," Goddard
said. "But what I've learned about our current gun laws is that they
are inexcusable."

Brady United formerly known as The Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence and its legislative and grassroots affiliate, the Brady Campaign and its dedicated network of Million Mom March Chapters, is the nation's largest, non-partisan, grassroots organization leading the fight to prevent gun violence. We are devoted to creating an America free from gun violence, where all Americans are safe at home, at school, at work, and in our communities.