University President Urges Students to Arm Themselves in Wake of San Bernardino Attack

Source: AP
Source: AP

In the wake of a likely ISIS-inspired mass shooting that left 14 people dead in San Bernardino, California, one university president is encouraging his students to arm up.

Jerry Falwell Jr., president of arch-conservative Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia, told the school's weekly convocation on Friday night that "It just blows my mind that the president of the United States [says] that the answer to circumstances like that is more gun control," according to the Washington Post.

"If some of those people in that community center had what I have in my back pocket right now," he said, laughing. "Is it illegal to pull it out? I don't know."

"I always thought that if more good people had concealed-carry permits, then we could end those Muslims before they walk in and kill," Falwell continued. "I just wanted to take this opportunity to encourage all of you to get your permit. We offer a free course. Let's teach them a lesson if they ever show up here."

He later clarified to the Post "those Muslims" in question were specifically armed terrorists in the stages of launching an attack, not followers of the Islamic faith more generally, though his original phrasing raised significant eyebrows.

In a statement issued to the paper, Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe called the comments "rash and repugnant" and reminded constituents that leaders "must take care to remember the tremendous harm that can result from reckless words."

Democrat presidential candidate Hillary Clinton called Falwell's remarks a "hateful response" during an ABC News interview on Sunday, according to the Guardian

According to CNN, Falwell's statements "spurred vigorous applause from thousands of students." Liberty University is among both the most conservative and fastest-growing institutions of higher education in the country.

While armed private citizens do sometimes stop mass shootings, successful intervention by civilians is very rare. But that hasn't stopped some gun-rights advocates from saying citizens exercising their Second Amendment rights could help stop potential terrorist attacks. Earlier this month, Maricopa County, Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio, a Republican, urged the state's concealed-carry permit holders to be on the lookout for mass shooters.

However, despite Falwell's explicit focus on "Muslims," the majority of mass shootings in the US are committed by white men.

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Tom McKay

Tom is a staff writer at Mic, covering national politics, media, policing and the war on drugs. He is based in New York and can be reached at tmckay@mic.com.

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