University president to students: Carry guns

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(CNN) — At a time when most college campuses prohibit guns, Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr. thinks the opposite should be the case — urging 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 activist and Liberty University founder — spurred vigorous applause from thousands of students gathered Friday night for Liberty’s weekly convocation. In a phone interview Saturday with CNN, Falwell said he wasn’t talking about all Muslims, just those who perpetrate attacks.

His comments drew a reaction from Ibrahim Hooper of the Council on Islamic-American Relations. He said Falwell’s remarks “amped up” inflammatory rhetoric toward Muslims.

“It’s part of an overall toxic anti-Muslim atmosphere that we’re seeing, particularly in the past few weeks with Paris and San Bernardino,” Hooper said. “Anti-Muslim bigotry was still on the fringes after 9/11. But it’s moving toward the mainstream thanks to Donald Trump, Ben Carson and these type of comments.”

Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik, the married couple behind the carnage in San Bernardino, were Muslim. FBI official David Bowdich has said authorities are investigating this incident as an act of terrorism, though authorities haven’t specified a motive — noting that workplace grievances may have factored in.

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. Malik pledged allegiance to ISIS in a Facebook post during the attack, according to three U.S. officials familiar with the investigation.

Fourteen people died and 21 were wounded before police later killed the pair in a shootout.

This mass shooting, like others before it, has spurred debate about what the government should do. 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 reforms are needed so incidents like this are “rare as opposed to normal.”

But Falwell made clear that he thinks doing more to limit 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,” a remark 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 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.

Talking to CNN, the university president said he doesn’t want what happened in San Bernardino to happen at Liberty, saying, “I want us to be prepared.”

“And let’s teach them,” Falwell told students the night earlier, apparently referring to potential shooters, “if they ever show up here.”

CNN’s Samuel Roth contributed to this report.

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1 Comment

  • Frank

    What an idiot. His heart is in the right place, but his brain is elsewhere. The threat isn’t just from Muslims, it is from mentally ill people of ALL faiths. Having responsible students armed IS a good idea. He is right about that. However making this a religious issue is to ignore the statistical reality of these attacks. The only element that every single one of them have in common is that the people who commit them are mentally ill in some fashion.

    The government seems to be in complete denial of this fact, to the point that they will not even mention the phrase “mentally ill” when discussing these events. And since you can not effectively address a problem unless you accurately identify what that problem is, the government is essentially refusing to do its duty in protecting the American people from these sorts of attacks. The governement is adamant that the current state of mental health care in this country is entirely adequate, and that the problem is access to guns. (Never mind that guns only account for a portion of mass attacks by the mentally ill.) It is therefore an undeniably logical conclusion that it is up to the American people to defend themselves. We can not rely on the government to stop these attacks, because they are refusing to address the actual problem. They are refusing to protect us from the dangerously mentally ill people (of all faiths, nationalities, etc) who are currently free to mingle among the rest of society despite presenting a clear and present danger to the public.

    Our government is failing us in this incredibly dangerous domestic threat. We simply have no choice but to protect ourselves. We have a second amendment precisely to cover us in these sorts of situations, and we should not hesitate to use it. It is our duty to each other as Americans!