The President of Liberty University in the US state of Virginia, Jerry Falwell Jr, suggested that students should carry weapons and acquire their permits to defend themselves in possible future attacks such as the one in San Bernardino, California.
Falwell Jr’s suggestion came during the school’s convocation on Friday in Lynchburg, in front of a large crowd of students, staff and faculty members, urging them to carry weapons on campus.
“Let’s teach them a lesson if they ever show up here,” Falwell said.
He continued saying that if people were armed like he is, admitting that he was carrying a weapon at the time of the speech, the attack would have different outcomes.
“If some of those people in that community center had what I have in my back pocket right now …,” he said while people applauded him “Is it illegal to pull it out? I don’t know,” he said, laughing.
The president’s remarks rose eyebrows after he specifically referred to Muslims.
“I’ve always thought if more good people had concealed carry permits, then we could end those Muslims before they walked in,” he said.
Of course, even though the crowd cheered and clapped, his statement caused reactions.
As a result to his remarks, after Falwell Jr was asked about the issue by a student on social media, he responded that he was referring to those who carried out the San Bernardino and Paris attacks.
Falwell Jr also said that he was specifically referring to Syed Farook and Tashfeen Malik, the couple who opened fire in San Bernardino on Wednesday, killing 14 people, and not to Muslims as a whole, while speaking to the Associated Press.
“I was referring to ‘those Muslims’ that just carried out attacks in Paris and California,” Falwell Jr wrote on Twitter.
@anaprah I was referring to "those Muslims" that just carried out attacks in Paris and California
— J L Falwell (@JerryJrFalwell) December 4, 2015
In his remarks, the president called the students to attend a free lesson given by the campus police to take the licence which allows them to carry a weapon, claiming that such a request was made from more than 100 students to the university police.
“I just wanted to take this opportunity to encourage all of you to get your permit. We offer a free course,” he said. “Let’s teach them a lesson if they ever show up here.”
Falwell Jr said he is not worried about all the possible armed student on campus as there is an age limit of 21 in order to obtain a permit.
Students and university faculty members holding permits have been allowed to carry weapons on campus since April 2013 when the relevant policy was passed by the university’s board of trustees.
As for himself, Falwell Jr said that he started carrying a .25-caliber handgun after the San Bernardino shootings happened, explaining that he has had permit for more than a year.
Falwell Jr’s remarks to the students on Friday brought on a statement by the Virginia government spokesman Terry McAuliffe.
“My administration is committed to making Virginia an open and welcoming Commonwealth, while also ensuring the safety of all of our citizens. Mr. Falwell’s rash and repugnant comments detract from both of those crucial goals,” McAuliffe said.
“Those of us in leadership positions, whether in government or education, must take care to remember the tremendous harm that can result from reckless words.”
Furthermore, Falwell Jr also cited one of the largest shootings in the US in 2007 at Virginia Tech.
“I always wonder, what if one of those professors and students had a concealed weapon and could’ve ended what happened and saved countless lives?” Falwell said.
“I don’t understand why it’s controversial for law-abiding citizens protecting themselves under the Second Amendment.”
The convocations at Liberty University are mandatory for students who live on campus and take place three times a week. The university has grown through online education, currently having 95,000 online students, thousands of which watch the convocations.