Liberty University president Jerry Falwell Jr. urged his students to arm themselves in the face of attacks by radical Islamic terrorists such as the one that occurred in San Bernardino, California Wednesday.
“Let’s teach them a lesson if they ever show up here,” Falwell told cheering students during convocation on Friday at the university in Virginia.
“It just blows my mind when I see the president of the United States say that the answer to circumstances like that is more gun control,” he said as students broke out into applause. “If the people…if some of those people in that community center had had what I’ve got in my back pocket right now…I’ve always thought if more good people had concealed carry permits, then we could end those Muslims before they walked in and killed them.”
Falwell advised students to take the university’s free class for concealed-carry permits so they could be prepared to counter such attacks as the one in San Bernardino that left 14 dead and many seriously injured.
He also described his emotions at hearing the story of a first responder to the San Bernardino attack who recounted the scene he witnessed of the extreme carnage in the community center. Falwell said he offered scholarships to the first responder’s children, and support also to the family of Michael Wetzel – a father of six children – who died in the shooting.
Falwell received numerous tweets of support for his words from students.
Some individuals, however, were critical of Falwell, accusing him of targeting Muslims, says the News & Advance. Falwell responded to critics, stating that he was referring to Islamic extremists who carried out the recent attacks, and not all Muslims.
“I’m not backing down,” he said. “If I had to say it again, I would say it louder because it was hard to hear with the students talking.”
Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) criticized Falwell, according to the Washington Post, calling his comments “rash and repugnant.”
“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,” McAuliffe said in a statement.
Falwell said Saturday the university is encouraging responsible gun ownership, not just gun owners.
“I would hope that — God forbid — there was a shooter in a classroom, that one to two students or faculty that were carrying a weapon would be able to protect themselves,” he said.