Thanks to a loosening of restrictions by school officials, Liberty University students will now be able to carry loaded guns into class on the school’s Lynchburg, Va., campus.
Liberty, the largest religion-affiliated U.S. school, will also allow university staff and visitors to bring firearms into university buildings on campus. Guns will still be banned from residence halls, even with a permit.
"Students ought to have the ability to protect themselves," said Josh Hetzler, a law student who helped draft the updated policy. "We've seen a number of instances here in the nation recently were schools are particularly vulnerable. They're gun free zones, except that the bad guys still get the guns."
The school started allowing faculty and staff to bring their guns into buildings if they had a permit in 2011. Students and visitors were allowed to carry guns in cars and on the campus grounds at that time. The university has an enrollment of 74,000, but the majority of its students, 62,000, take online courses.
Colleges generally do not allow the carrying of concealed handguns, reports The Huffington Post.
“I think it's good that Liberty is a little more open than some schools, and I think it’ll continue to create a higher level of security on campus than what was found at Virginia Tech," Liberty chancellor Jerry Falwell Jr said.
“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.”
A spokesman for the Campaign to Keep Guns Off Campus, John Johnson, disagrees: “A student with a concealed weapon is unlikely to prevent a mass shooting or crime. On the other hand, the unintended consequences of gun possession by students and others -- a shooting during an argument or dispute, attempted suicide, unintentional shooting, etc. -- are real and make the college campus more dangerous every hour of every day."