Liberty University has always been pro-Second Amendment, but next year they plan to up the ante—big time.
The school announced plans last week to build a $1 million, 13,000 square-foot gun range on their campus in Lynchburg, Va. The complex will feature indoor and outdoor areas for pistol, rifle, and shotgun practice and competition.
University president Jerry Falwell, Jr., touted the range as a logical extension of the school’s decision to allow students to carry handguns on campus. The range will give students a facility where they can earn their concealed handgun licenses and become more proficient with firearms.
Falwell told the Washington Post that the school’s pro-gun policies are meant to deter mass shooters like the one who killed 32 people at Virginia Tech in 2007. Gun-free zones attract terrorists, he said, and Liberty is set to become the least gun-free university in the country.
Students and Liberty families approve of the university’s stance on firearms, Falwell continued. Though he admitted he wasn’t sure how parents would respond, he’s received overwhelmingly positive feedback about the proposed range.
“I was a little timid about telling parents about it because I thought some would be worried,” Falwell said. “But I never got such enthusiastic applause. They don’t want to see anything happen here like at Virginia Tech, where nobody was able to fire back.”
While guns and college students might sound like a potentially dangerous combination, Brad Butler, Liberty’s planning coordinator, said the school is committed to creating a safe environment. Butler has been working with the NRA to develop best practices for safety as the school considers design and policy options.
Jason Brown, an NRA spokesman, told the Post that the organization frequently supports “institutions across the country by providing range guidelines and technical advice and grant-funding for citizens to participate in shooting sports.”
“We really do want to provide the best facilities possible in the most controlled environment possible,” Butler told WDBJ7 Tuesday.
Ultimately, Butler’s motivation for helping with the project is similar to Falwell’s. He said the range will allow students to prepare for a potential active shooter situation like the one that occurred a short 85 miles away at Virginia Tech.
“With president Falwell’s bold leadership, we’re going to avert something of that magnitude should evil like that ever come to this campus,” Butler said.
According to WDBJ7, Liberty needs a special use permit from Campbell County to build the shooting range, but planning commissioners have already recommended that the project move forward.
The Campbell County Board of Supervisors will have a final say on LU’s permit request after a public hearing, which is scheduled for Jan. 3.