Liberty University president Jerry Falwell Jr. urged students Friday to carry concealed weapons on campus to counter any possible armed attack, saying that “we could end those Muslims before they walk in.”
“Let’s teach them a lesson if they ever show up here,” Falwell told students at the Christian school.
Falwell was met with rousing applause from students, but some said he went too far when he appeared to be referring specifically to Muslims, the Lynchburg News & Advance reported.
"I've always thought if more good people had concealed carry permits, then we could end those Muslims before they walked in," Falwell said.
He told the Associated Press on Saturday he was specifically referring to Syed Farook and Tashfeen Malik, the couple who shot and killed 14 people during a holiday party in a Southern California office building on Wednesday.
Falwell told the News & Advance, “There are many good Muslims, many good moderate Muslims.” He also told the newspaper he believes it was clear that he was talking about the attacks in California and Paris.
Falwell also told the AP he believed the campus needed to be prepared in the face of the increasing frequency of mass killings. He cited the 2007 killing of 32 people at Virginia Tech, the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history.
"What if just one of those students or one of those faculty members had a concealed permit and was carrying a weapon when the shooter walked into Virginia Tech? Countless lives could have been saved," he said.
Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe criticized those remarks, saying in a statement to The Washington Post those comments were “rash and repugnant.”
“My administration is committed to making Virginia an open and welcoming Commonwealth, while also ensuring the safety of all of our citizens. Mr. Falwell’s rash and repugnant comments detract from both of those crucial goals,” McAuliffe said.
“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,” McAuliffe added.
Falwell said the university is only encouraging responsible gun ownership, not just gun owners. He also said he's decided to carry a gun after recent attacks.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.