Liberty University is actively taking measures to equip students to own and handle firearms. The Virginia-based private evangelical college recently announced plans to build a $1 million shooting range facility on its campus.
University President Jerry Falwell Jr. says, “We have a very pro-Second Amendment student body,” and cites student interest as the driving force behind the construction plans. The university made the decision to carry through with the plans after meeting with National Rifle Association executive vice president Wayne LaPierre.
Last year, Falwell established a free course for students to receive their conceal carry permits in Virginia and has been very vocal in his advocacy of students carrying firearms on campus. During an infamous convocation speech given in December 2015, Falwell told students he was carrying a pistol on stage and urged them to secure their own conceal carry permits. Speaking in response to the San Bernardino shooting, Falwell told students, “I’ve always thought that if more good people had concealed-carry permits, then we could end those Muslims before they walked in.” Firearms are currently allowed in Liberty residence halls for students who have permits.
According to a Washington Post article, Falwell’s hope in building the facility will be to “give students the opportunity to practice their aim” and “be prepared in the event of an ‘active shooter’ scenario.” Falwell referenced the 2007 Virginia Tech incident, which occurred just 85 miles from the Liberty campus, as part of his reasoning for equipping students with the skills to “fire back” if ever terrorists were to target their campus.
As for parents’ response to the pro-gun approach Falwell has taken on the campus, Falwell admits he was “timid” when he first told parents about it, but he “never got such enthusiastic applause.”
Liberty’s new 13,500-square-foot shooting range will accompany the indoor ice-skating rink, year-round snowless ski and snowboard center, and equestrian facility that students already enjoy access to.