When Virginia Tech University student Colin Goddard went to French class on the morning of April 16, 2007, it seemed like any other Monday.
But then a fellow student opened fire on the Blacksburg, Virginia, campus, in what became the deadliest school shooting in United States history.
“As a result of nine-and-a-half minutes of somebody who never should have had a gun having a gun in their hands, 32 of my classmates and teachers died,” Goddard tells PEOPLE. “I got shot four times: above my knee and in both of my hips and my shoulder. I was one of the lucky ones.”
Goddard was shot by a 23-year-old senior. In addition to the 32 people killed, 17 people were injured before the shooter turned the gun on himself.
Last month, Goddard was one of six gun-violence survivors to participate in a roundtable discussion in New York City to talk about how the shootings turned their lives upside-down. (Watch the roundtable discussion on People Features: Gun Violence Survivors Speak Out.)
“I assumed, like most Americans, that we did everything we could to keep guns from dangerous people, and I frankly was shocked to learn that we don’t even do something as simple as a background check on a gun sale,” says Goddard, who lives with bullets still inside of him. “The reality is so traumatic it can overwhelm you.”
PEOPLE partnered with the nonprofit advocacy organization Everytown for Gun Safety for the discussion, moderated by actress and advocate Julianne Moore, ahead of National Gun Violence Survivors Week, which kicked off Saturday and continues through the week.
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“It never leaves; it’s not something you experience, then move on and it’s over,” Goddard says. “You still have to deal with the challenges.”