LYNCHBURG, Va. — At a time when most college campuses prohibit guns, Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr. thinks the opposite should be the case — urging all his school’s students to be armed, especially in light of this week’s massacre in San Bernardino, California.
“I always thought that if more good people had concealed-carry permits, then we could end those Muslims before they walk in and kill,” he said.
Those comments from Falwell — a son of the late evangelist, conservative political activity and Liberty University founder of the same — spurred vigorous applause from thousands of students gathered Friday night for Liberty’s weekly convocation.
FBI official David Bowdich has said that authorities are investigating Wednesday’s carnage as an act of terrorism, though authorities haven’t specified a motive — noting that workplace grievances may have factored in. Fourteen people died and 21 were wounded before police killed the shooters, a married couple, in a shootout.
Syed Rizwan Farook worked with people gunned down at a holiday luncheon and authorities are exploring his communications with at least one person being investigated for terror connections. His wife and fellow shooter, Tashfeen Malik, pledged allegiance to ISIS during the attack, according to three U.S. officials familiar with the investigation. Both were Muslim.
This mass shooting, like others before it, have spurred debate about what the government should do about it. In its first front-page editorial in nearly 100 years, the New York Times called for a drastic reduction in available guns in America. And President Barack Obama said that reforms are needed so incidents like this are “rare as opposed to normal.”
But Falwell made clear that he thinks limiting guns is a bad idea given what happened in San Bernardino, taking a swipe at those who think otherwise to cheers from the crowd.
“It just blows my mind when I see the president of the United States say that the answer to circumstances like this is more gun control,” he said.
A smiling Falwell made a point that he had a gun “in my back pocket right now,” which drew roars from students.
If people at San Bernardino’s Inland Regional Center, where Wednesday’s rampage took place, were similarly armed, would it have made a difference? Falwell suggested they would.
That’s why he encouraged those in the crowd “to get your permit,” noting that Liberty — which has more than 14,500 students on its Lynchburg, Virginia, campus, plus over 95,000 enrolled online — offers a free course to help make that happen.
“And let’s teach them,” Falwell said, apparently referring to potential shooters, “if they ever show up here.”