The president of a non-profit Christian university in the United States urged students during the school’s convocation on Friday to get their permits to carry concealed weapons.
“I’ve always thought that if more good people had concealed-carry permits, then we could end those Muslims before they walked in and killed them,” Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr said to applause.
The president, who is son the of late religious right leader Jerry Falwell Sr, pressed students at the Christian school in Lynchburg, Virginia, a popular pilgrimage site for presidential candidates, to get their permits to carry concealed weapons in the aftermath of the California shooting.
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“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.”
Further, Falwell criticised US President Barack Obama over his recent remarks advocating gun control in the wake of San Bernardino mass shooting. “It just blows my mind that the president of the United States [says] that the answer to circumstances like that is more gun control.”
“If some of those people in that community centre had what I have in my back pocket right now …,” he remarked while being interrupted by louder cheers and clapping. “Is it illegal to pull it out? I don’t know,” he said, chuckling.
Speaking to The Washington Post, Falwell revealed that he has had a concealed-carry permit for about a year, but decided for the first time on Friday to carry a pistol because of the California shooting on Wednesday.
He went on to say that he has had several shotguns, rifles and pistols on his farm for several years but is new to carrying a concealed weapon and needs to find a holster for his pistol.
Clarifying his statement, he said when he referred to ‘those Muslims’ he was referring to extremists specifically those behind the attacks in Paris and in San Bernardino. “That’s the only thing I would clarifiy,” Falwell said. “If I had to say what I said again, I’d say exactly the same thing.”
The university’s convocation service, held three times a week in a 12,000-seat sports arena, is mandatory for the schools’ students who live on campus and is also watched by thousands of its 95,000 online students.
According to Falwell, his comments have generated the most positive comments he has ever received for remarks made during the convocation. “The support here on campus is almost universal,” he said. Students of all faiths can attend Liberty University, and Falwell estimated that about 15 to 20 students on campus are Muslim.
However, Falwell’s remarks prompted flak from government of Virginia as a statement issued by the government’s spokesperson Terry McAuliffe (D) said, “My administration is committed to making Virginia an open and welcoming Commonwealth, while also ensuring the safety of all of our citizens. Falwell’s rash and repugnant comments detract from both of those crucial goals.”
“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,” it added.
Virginia residents who are at least 21 years old may apply for a concealed weapons permit once they have completed training that satisfies state requirements. Residents must be at least 18 to purchase a shotgun or rifle and 21 to purchase a handgun.
In April 2013, Liberty’s board of trustees approved a policy allowing students and faculty members with permits to carry concealed weapons on campus, except in residence halls. In November 2013, a 19-year-old Liberty student was shot and killed at an off-campus women’s dormitory when the student attacked a campus police officer with a hammer.
This article originally appeared on The Washington Post.