President Jerry Falwell Jr. of Liberty University, one of the largest Christian universities in the world, is being criticized for urging students to get concealed weapons in the wake of the mass shootings in Paris and San Bernardino in order to “end those Muslims.”
The Washington Post reports the son of the late televangelist Jerry Falwell Sr. made his comments to students at a mandatory convocation on Friday. Falwell, who’s had his permit to carry a firearm for a year, said he’s now decided to carry his .25 pistol with him after the fatal shootings. During his speech, he told students to get their permits so that they would be prepared if “those Muslims” attacked the university.
The Washington Post reports:
“It just blows my mind that the president of the United States [says] that the answer to circumstances like that is more gun control,” he said to applause. “If some of those people in that community center had what I have in my back pocket right now …” he said while being interrupted by louder cheers and clapping. “Is it illegal to pull it out? I don’t know.”
“I’ve always thought that if more good people had concealed-carry permits, then we could end those Muslims before they walked in,” he says, the rest of his sentence drowned out by loud applause while he said, “and killed them. I just wanted to take this opportunity to encourage all of you to get your permit. We offer a free course,” he said. “Let’s teach them a lesson if they ever show up here.”
Falwell now says his reference to “those Muslims” wasn’t towards all worshippers, but those who are considered radical Islamic terrorists.
The university currently has 15 to 20 Muslim students.
Falwell told the Post that, if given another chance, he would clarify his statements regarding Muslims. He wouldn’t, however, change anything else he said.
A spokesman for Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) released a statement on the language used in Falwell’s speech, calling his comments “repugnant.”
The Washington Post reports:
“My administration is committed to making Virginia an open and welcoming Commonwealth, while also ensuring the safety of all of our citizens. Mr. Falwell’s rash and repugnant comments detract from both of those crucial goals,” McAuliffe said. “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.”
Falwell was generally praised by the student body for spreading awareness about obtaining gun permits. He was also applauded for reaching out to a first responder from San Bernardino, Calif. where couple Tashfeen Malik and Syed Farook killed 14 and wounded 21 during a holiday party at a social service building.
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton said Falwell’s comments towards Muslims are not only helping incite racism against Muslim Americans, but are also aiding ISIS. Speaking about the nation’s terrorism battle with “This Week” host George Stephanopoulos, Clinton said his language crossed the line towards hate speech.
ABC News reports:
“This is the kind of deplorable not only hateful response to a legitimate security issue,” Clinton said. “But it is giving aid and comfort to ISIS and other radical jihadists.”
Falwell retweeted support from his students after Clinton’s statements. Liberty University is known to be a hub for Republicans who are seeking support from Christian conservative voters. However, in September, Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders also gave a speech to the large student body, referencing common interests regarding ending racial inequality and helping the financially disadvantaged.