Liberty lifts campus gun ban

The world’s largest Christian university now allows permit holders to carry weapons on campus.

By Bob Allen

Trustees of Liberty University have changed the Christian school’s weapons policy to allow students, faculty and staff and visitors with concealed-carry permits to bring weapons into all campus facilities except for dormitories.

The policy change went into effect March 22, after trustees reportedly voted unanimously to loosen a previous policy where guns were allowed on campus but not inside buildings.

“I think it’s a positive thing for security that there’s at least a chance that somebody responsible will be carrying a firearm when something like (the Virginia Tech massacre) happens,” Liberty University Chancellor Jerry Falwell Jr. told the Lynchburg News & Advance.

The revised policy says people “who hold a valid concealed weapons permit recognized by the Commonwealth of Virginia may possess and carry such concealed weapon on University property and in University facilities, and may store the approved weapon in a secured container or compartment in their vehicle while on University property.”

Liberty’s website lists more than two dozen schools with similar policies that permit students and others to have concealed weapons on campus. They include the University of Colorado, Michigan State University, University of Mississippi and University of Utah. None of the listed schools is religiously affiliated.

A private Christian university started by the late Jerry Falwell, describes itself as the “largest Christian university in the world.” Its vision is to “train Champions for Christ as a world-class university.” The school emphasizes “biblical morality” and “a solid doctrinal statement that truly sets us apart from other schools.

“Everything we do is designed to develop Christ-centered men and women with the values, knowledge and skills essential to impact tomorrow’s world,” the statement says.

Liberty has ties to the Southern Baptist Conservatives of Virginia, and several prominent Southern Baptist Convention leaders are current or former trustees.

Liberty declined to revise its weapons policy in 2009, after students started an online petition claiming the current policy affected only responsible gun owners and that anyone intending to cause harm with a weapon wouldn’t be deterred by a policy.

At the time, the younger Falwell described the trustees’ rationale: "The feeling was that, unlike most private property owners, we have our own police force. So the decision was made, since crime has not really been a problem at L.U., not to make any changes to the policy at this time."