The University of Colorado's Wittemyer Courtroom was silent Tuesday night as Colin Goddard, one of 17 survivors of the 2007 Virginia Tech massacre, described the day that changed his life.
A room of about 60 listened as Goddard described sitting in his French class on April 16, 2007. He said he heard the first gun shots near his classroom, followed by screams of his classmates as the shooter entered the room. Next, he said, came sensations of the first of four bullets that hit his body.
"It felt like someone had kicked my leg, right above my knee, and then it faded to burning and stinging," Goddard said, "and then it faded to warm and wet, and then it went numb. I had been shot four times."
The very first sounds from the captivated audience came about 25 minutes into the speech in the form of laughter as Goddard talked about his recovery and the support from the community of Blacksburg, Va.
"Every cute girl I had ever met in school came to visit me that day," Goddard said, smiling. "My dad told me they didn't make girls like that when he was in school."
Goddard continued talking about his recovery process, which included travel, returning to school and graduating from Virginia Tech as well as and his internship with the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, where he acts as the assistant director of federal legislation.
A couple of years after the shooting, Goddard joined the campaign full-time, where he worked to increase background checks and other barriers that can help "keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people," he said.
"People think I'm here to take everyone's guns away, but that's not the case," Goddard said. "I just want to make sure that background checks are done."
In March, the Colorado Supreme Court overturned CU's longstanding gun ban when it ruled the university couldn't prohibit those with concealed-weapons permits from bringing their firearms on campus.
Goddard said he does not believe guns have a place in education.
During an audience question-and-answer session following Goddard's speech, CU sophomore Chris Ayala expressed his concerns about CU allowing concealed weapons on campus.
"I'm confused about why anyone would need a gun on campus," Ayala said. "I'm embarrassed by the community and the campus for allowing this to happen."
Goddard fielded questions from audience members who inquired whether Goddard thought it was realistic to assume someone could have stepped up and acted against a shooter in a situation like his.
"There needs to be more training and it needs to be under some stress because leisurely firing a gun doesn't prepare you for what happened in my classroom," Goddard said.
Audience members began voicing disappointment with the lack of discussion about guns on the CU-Boulder campus this year.
The discussion quickly escalated to a passionate directive lead by CU film professor Jim Palmer, who said he expects a stance from the CU-Boulder faculty about gun policies on campus.
Goddard said he believes there is hope for change.
"We are better than this," Goddard said. "We can do better than this. We don't have to accept this as our reality."