In the wake of the mass shooting in San Bernardino, California, on Dec. 2, Jerry Falwell Jr., president of Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia, told students at the private Christian college to arm themselves against "those Muslims" (video below).
"It just blows my mind when I see the president of the United States say that the answer to circumstances like [the shooting in California] is more gun control," Falwell said during his speech on Dec. 4, according to NBC News.
The students cheered and applauded at the mandatory convocation for Falwell, who is the son of Jerry Falwell Sr., who was a leader for the religious right.
"If some of those people in that community center had had what I've got in my back pocket right now," Falwell added, eliciting louder applause.
"Is it illegal to pull it out?" Falwell joked. "I don't know."
Falwell then went on to target one group of people in particular.
"I've always thought, if more good people had concealed carry permits then we could end those Muslims before they walked in killing," he said.
The student body broke into more applause.
“I just wanted to take this opportunity to encourage all of you to get your permit," Falwell added. "We offer a free course, and let’s teach them a lesson if they ever show up here.”
The students roared with applause again.
Falwell did not respond to questions via email from NBC News, but he told The Washington Post that he decided to carry a .25 pistol because of San Bernardino attacks.
Falwell went on to say that his mention of “those Muslims" was about Islamic terrorists in Paris and San Bernardino.
“That’s the only thing I would clarify,” Falwell told the newspaper. “If I had to say what I said again, I’d say exactly the same thing.
“ ... Jesus said ‘Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s,’ and part of that was to go to war, protecting whatever nation was under control of the king. I wouldn’t agree with any interpretation of Scripture that was used to say that a man or a woman shouldn’t protect their families.”
However, Jesus said, "Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s" in a clear reference to paying taxes in Matthew 22:21, and Mark 12:17.
"My administration is committed to making Virginia an open and welcoming Commonwealth, while also ensuring the safety of all of our citizens," Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe of Virginia said via a spokesperson's statement.
"Mr. Falwell’s rash and repugnant comments detract from both of those crucial goals," the statment continued. "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."
Falwell also made reference to the 2007 shootings at Virginia Tech, where the campus had its own armed police force, Mother Jones reported in 2012.
“I always wonder, what if one of those professors and students had a concealed weapon and could’ve ended what happened and saved countless lives?” Falwell told the Post. “I don’t understand why it’s controversial for law-abiding citizens protecting themselves under the Second Amendment.”
Falwell reportedly retweeted people praising him on Twitter, including one tweet that said: “SUCK IT, Muslim extremists,” with a link to a gun course at Liberty University.