Virginia Tech survivor: 'Gratified' by verdict, still more needs to be done

Gun control activist Colin Goddard was shot four times during the April 2007 Virginia Tech massacre.

Story highlights

  • Colin Goddard was one of 17 people wounded in the shooting rampage
  • A jury found the university was negligent in the shooting rampage
  • The jury awarded $4 million each to two of the families of those killed
  • Goddard says he is "gratified by the verdict"

A man who survived the April 2007 massacre at Virginia Tech says not enough is being done to keep guns out of the hands of people like the shooter even as a jury found the university failed to warn students earlier that a gunman was on campus.

"As someone who lost a teacher and many friends as a result of the Virginia Tech massacre, I am gratified by the verdict," said Colin Goddard, who was shot four times during the rampage by Seung-Hui Cho.

A jury Wednesday awarded $4 million to the families of Erin Peterson and Julia Pryde after finding the university should have notified the student body earlier after discovering two people had been found shot to death in a dormitory room on the morning of April 16.

Cho went on to kill 30 more people at Norris Hall, home to the university's Engineering Science and Mechanics Department, after chaining the doors closed. He also wounded 17 people, including Goddard, before killing himself.

Two years before the shooting rampage, a judge deemed Cho a danger to himself due to mental illness, which should have disqualified him from buying a handgun under federal law.

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"We have Congressional representatives and many state legislators who have failed since Virginia Tech to keep the mentally ill and other dangerous people from easy access to guns," Goddard said.

In the aftermath of the shooting, Goddard went to work as a gun control advocate, calling for among other things stronger measures that keep guns out of the hands of the mentally ill.

"It's outrageous that in America people sell guns without background checks and with no questions asked."

Cho's mental health status should have been noted in the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, a database of people disqualified from gun purchases.

But, in Cho's case, his mental status never went in the system. The reason: The federal government relied on Virginia to provide the information, and Virginia law disqualifies someone from buying firearms only if he has been involuntarily committed to a mental hospital.

Cho was ordered to undergo outpatient treatment, but he was never committed.

Cho bought one of the guns he used in the massacre online from an out-of-state dealer, picking it up after background checks were complete from a Blacksburg, Va., pawn shop. He bought his other pistol from a Roanoke gun dealer a month before the shooting.