Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr. wants to make his university virtually terrorist proof.
In a recent speech, Falwell urged all students, staff and faculty at his Christian school to get a permit to carry a concealed weapon on campus to counter any copycat attack like the deadly rampage in California just days ago.
“Let’s teach them a lesson if they ever show up here,” Falwell told a crowd of thousands at a convocation Friday on the school campus in Lynchburg, Virginia.
Falwell’s call to arms was applauded by the group. Approximately 14,000 students attend Liberty University’s campus, as well as a reported 1,800 staff.
“I’ve always thought if more good people had concealed carry permits, then we could end those Muslims before they walked in,” Falwell said.
Falwell clarified his remarks on Saturday, saying he was specifically referring to Syed Farook and Tashfeen Malik, the husband and wife who shot and killed 14 people at a holiday party in San Bernardino on Wednesday.
Falwell also said he believed the campus needed to be prepared in the face of the increasing frequency of mass killings. He cited, for example, the 2007 massacre of 32 people at Virginia Tech, the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history, and less than 100 miles southwest of Liberty.
“What if just one of those students or one of those faculty members had a concealed permit and was carrying a weapon when the shooter walked into Virginia Tech? Countless lives could have been saved,” he said.
Falwell’s message is apparently being heeded. He said more than 100 people had asked Liberty police about a free class to obtain a permit to carry a concealed weapon.
Liberty was founded by Jerry Falwell Sr., who was among the nation’s first conservative cultural warriors. The Moral Majority founder’s barbed commentary on contemporary matters such as gay Americans made him a reviled figure to some and a pioneering conservative crusader to others.
Following the San Bernardino shootings, which left 14 dead, Falwell said he began carrying a .25-caliber handgun in his back pocket. He said he’s had a permit for more than year.
During his address Friday, Falwell mentioned the weapon and reached around seemingly to fetch it.
“Is it illegal to pull it out? I don’t know,” he said, laughing, drawing some hoots from the audience.
Asked if he was concerned by the prospect of thousands of armed young people on campus, Falwell said Virginia has a minimum age of 21 for a carry-conceal permit. He said that meant only older students would be armed.
Falwell said he had also reached out to a first responder in San Bernardino to see if the school could offer scholarship assistance to his children.
The Associated Press contributed to this article