RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr. is urging students, staff and faculty at his Christian school to get a permit to carry a concealed weapon on campus to counter any copycat attack like the recent deadly rampage in California.
Falwell told an estimated 10,000 of the campus community at convocation Friday in Lynchburg, Virginia, "Let's teach them a lesson if they ever show up here."
While Falwell's call to arms was applauded, his remarks also seemed to target Muslims.
He said, "I've always thought if more good people had concealed carry permits, then we could end those Muslims before they walked in."
The final words of his statement could not be clearly heard on a videotape of the remarks.
However, Falwell tells The Associated Press he was specifically referring to Syed Farook and Tashfeen Malik, the husband and wife who shot and killed 14 people at a holiday party in San Bernardino on Wednesday.
Falwell's remarks have generated a sharp rebuke from Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, who called the comments "reckless" as well as "rash and repugnant."
Liberty University responded to Convocation remarks Monday:
In news articles over the weekend, Liberty University President Jerry Falwell publicly clarified that "these Muslims" that he referred to in Friday's Convocation were the Muslim terrorists who attacked innocents in San Bernardino, California, and Paris, France. He also clarified 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. When hearing the remarks in their full context, the public can see that there was no attempt to incite hate against anyone, much less all Muslims. President Falwell's subsequent clarifications emphasized what was clear to those who were present. 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.
Liberty University's policy of allowing students, faculty, and staff to carry weapons on campus was as a result of a school shooting at Virginia Tech, about an hour from Liberty's campus. Other Convocation remarks by President Falwell after similar tragedies further underscores our belief that we should exercise our Second Amendment rights to protect ourselves in the event something similar should occur on our campus. Far from promoting an atmosphere of hate against Muslims, we are promoting an atmosphere of safety and self-defense. A fair and complete understanding of the full context of these remarks makes that clear.
(Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)