Liberty University's Jerry Falwell Urges Students To Carry Guns

By Lawrence Lease on December 6, 2015
Jerry Falwell, gun rights,

Liberty University President Jerry Falwell has called on his students to carry guns on campus. (Photo from CNN)

Christian college president Jerry Falwell is encouraging students to legally carry guns on campus following the terrorist attack in California that left 14 dead in San Bernardino. Those in attendance at Liberty University’s mandatory convocation erupted into applause when the Virginia school’s president, Jerry Falwell Jr., asked students to take a concealed weapon permit course that the college offers for free.

More than 14,000 students live on Liberty’s sprawling campus in Lynchburg. Convocation usually draws about 13,000 students, according to the school’s website, and a good deal of those in attendance Friday applauded when Falwell promoted carrying guns. Falwell told The Associated Press earlier this year that publicly joining political discourse is “not my thing.”

If some of those people in that community center had had what I’ve got in my back pocket right now,” Falwell said, stopping when roaring cheers became too loud for him to speak over. “Is it illegal to pull it out? I don’t know.”

But Jerry Falwell was also met with backlash after saying, “I’ve always thought, if more good people had concealed carry permits then we could end those Muslims before they walked in killing … Let’s teach them a lesson if they ever show up here.”

Falwell became president of Liberty in 2007 following the death of his father, Jerry Falwell, who founded the school. Falwell Sr. was an outspoken conservative political commentator, but his son has kept a lower profile.

In April 2013, Liberty University board of trustees approved a policy allowing students and faculty members with permits to carry concealed weapons on campus, except in residence halls. In November 2013, a 19-year-old Liberty student was shot and killed at an off-campus women’s dormitory when the student attacked a campus police officer with a hammer. Most major religious groups favor stricter gun-control laws, including black Protestants (76 percent), Catholics (67 percent) and white mainline Protestants (57 percent), according to a 2013 Public Religion Research Institute survey.

But white evangelicals are the religious group least likely to support stricter laws (38 percent favor them while 59 percent oppose them).

That’s why he encouraged those in the crowd “to get your permit,” noting that Liberty University — which has more than 14,500 students on its Lynchburg, Virginia, campus, plus over 95,000 enrolled online — offers a free gun training course.

This doesn’t mean that every Liberty student will be carrying weapons at all times, though. A person has to be 21 years or older to get a concealed carry permit in Virginia, after all, and Falwell pointed out that even those with permits can’t bring guns into dorms.

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