Liberty University clarifies Falwell statement about concealed carry

Liberty University issued a statement Monday clarifying that its president, Jerry Falwell, was referring only to Muslim terrorists when he stated last week that with concealed carry, “we could end those Muslims before they walked in.”

Falwell’s comments elicited a firestorm of outrage over the weekend, with many accusing him of Islamophobia, but he and the school insist that his words were taken out of context.

According to the statement posted to the university’s website, Falwell’s comments at the school Convocation ceremony on Friday were inspired by the recent terrorist attacks in San Bernardino and Paris, and that “he was in no way referring to the many good and honorable Muslims who do not come into public spaces armed to kill innocents.”

Rather, the statement explains, Falwell was merely responding to pundits and politicians who have called for gun control in response to attacks such as the one in San Bernardino, countering that message by urging students to get their concealed carry permits, which he noted they could do through a free course offered by the school.

“President Falwell’s subsequent clarifications emphasized what was clear to those who were present,” the statement asserts. “His remarks were a call to arms for self-defense and a criticism of political leaders who see the answer to such tragedies as more gun control. More gun control leads to more places and circumstances where innocents are unarmed and unable to defend themselves.”

Indeed, the full context of Falwell’s address makes clear that he was speaking specifically with regard to the recent terrorist attacks, which topic occupied the bulk of his comments.

“Before we dismiss this morning, I wanted to mention that last night Becki [Falwell’s wife] and I were watching the Fox News reports on the shooting in California and we were so touched by Mike Madden … the police officer who was the first responder to the terrible murders at the community center there, and he told the story about no matter how well you’re prepared in your training to deal with something like that, that there’s just no way, when you walk in and you see the carnage and you smell the smell of gunpowder, it’s something you can ever be prepared for,” Falwell began.

After relating the school’s offer to provide scholarships for Madden’s two children, as also for the six children of one of the victims of the San Bernardino shooting, Falwell critiqued the reaction of politicians like President Obama, who used the tragedy to argue for new gun control measures.

“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,” Falwell told students. “I mean, if some of those people in that community center had had what I got in my back pocket right now … I’ve always thought if more good people had conceal-carry permits then we could end those Muslims before they go out there and kill.”

The university’s statement of clarification notes that a similar tragedy—the Virginia Tech shooting, which occurred only about one hour from Liberty University—inspired the school to adopt a policy allowing concealed carry on campus.

“Other Convocation remarks by President Falwell after similar tragedies further underscore our belief that we should exercise our Second Amendment rights to protect ourselves in the event something similar should occur on our campus,” the statement concludes. “Far from promoting an atmosphere of hate against Muslims, we are promoting an atmosphere of safety and self-defense.”

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