Liberty University is planning to open a state-of-the-art shooting range on campus next fall as part of the conservative Evangelical Christian School’s commitment to promoting gun ownership and firearm sports.
The university, under Falwell, has increased its focus on public safety, and it has allowed students, faculty and staff to carry concealed handguns on campus. Last year he established a free course for those interested in earning a Virginia concealed carry permit. Virginia prohibits the carrying of firearms on public school property, but because Liberty is a private university it is exempt from that law. More than 1,600 people have taken the course at Liberty, Falwell said. But just 20 students — out of the 8,000 who live on campus — have received the proper documentation from the state police to carry a concealed weapon, he said.
Falwell said that the concept for the new shooting range came from student interest in firearms. He noted that one of the more vibrant and engaged student groups on campus is dedicated to safeguarding the Second Amendment right to bear arms.
“We have a very pro-Second Amendment student body,” Falwell said.
Falwell said that after meeting with National Rifle Association executive vice president and chief executive officer Wayne LaPierre, the university decided to move forward with its plans for the shooting range complex. Brad Butler, Liberty’s planning coordinator, said the NRA provided crucial expertise on best practices for safety as the school examined designs for the project.
[…] Falwell said that one of the reasons for the university’s aggressive posture on carrying firearms is so that the campus will be prepared in the event of an “active shooter” scenario. Falwell pointed out that that the 2007 mass shooting at Virginia Tech occurred just 85 miles west of his campus; he said the “gun-free zones” that encompass other Virginia universities make them vulnerable.
“It’s where the terrorists are most likely to strike,” Falwell said, adding that students and Liberty families approve of the university’s stance on firearms. “They don’t want to see anything happen here like at Virginia Tech, where nobody was able to fire back.”
Falwell got his own concealed-carry permit about two years ago, and he said that he began carrying a .25-caliber pistol because of the mass shooting in San Bernardino, Calif. last year. He had a pistol with him on stage while giving a convocation to the Liberty student body in December 2015, and during that speech he urged students to get their own permits so they would be able to stop Islamist terrorists before they strike: “Let’s teach them a lesson if they ever show up here,” he said at the time.
Jordan Stein, founder and president of Students at Liberty for Gun Rights, said that the new shooting range will be a welcome addition to campus.
“Liberty has a strong passion for the Second Amendment and a great respect for firearms,” said Stein, 21, a senior from Asheboro, N.C. who is studying government politics and policy. “It will continue that tradition and teach how to responsibly use firearms and to responsibly use them for good and the defense of others.”
Source: T. Rees Shapiro, The Washington Post