Liberty University is living up to its name. A new policy will allow any visitor, student or staff member with a concealed weapons permit to carry a gun onto Campus.
On Friday, the Board of Trustees approved the new policy, replacing what was a complete ban of any and all firearms on university grounds.
The specifics of the policy are as follows, visitors are allowed to store their firearms in locked cars, students can apply for permission from campus police to carry a gun on the outdoor grounds or in a locked car. However, both groups are prohibited from carrying firearms into any campus buildings, including dormitories, stadiums and academic halls, according to campus officials.
Additionally, the policy permits certain members of the faculty and staff to carry weapons inside buildings, with permission granted on a case-by-case basis from campus police.
Again, all groups need to be in possession of a valid CCW permit.
Liberty Chancellor Jerry Falwell Jr. commented on the policy decision. He told Newsadvance.com, “It adds to the security and safety of the campus and it’s a good thing. If something — God forbid — ever happened like what happened at Virginia Tech, there would be more than just our police officers who would be able to deal with it.”
Craig Storrs, a senior who helped spearhead a campaign to bring gun rights to Liberty University, said he was “over the moon” with the policy change.
“I thought I’d be graduating and still having to fight for it because it is a very controversial policy and not a lot of schools are willing to take the risk,” Storrs told Newsadvance.com.
“It makes me feel secure knowing I would be able to defend myself if something does happen, like Virginia Tech or if I get stopped on the street for a mugging or something like that,” he added.
However, not everyone on campus shared Storrs enthusiasm.
Col. Richard Hinkley, Liberty’s police chief, voiced concern over the notion of having more people carrying on campus and the confusion that could potentially cause in the event a spree-shooter attacks the campus.
“If we get an active shooter situation, there may be other people with guns. That will be a concern of the officers responding: Which one is really a bad guy?”
Col. Hinkley also pointed out that students could become desensitized to seeing firearms on campus and then, subsequently, fail to report suspicious activity.
“My biggest fear is that kids get used to guns being here, see one on somebody and not call and that be the person that was walking in to shoot someone or do harm to someone else,” Hinkley told Newsadvance.com.
Liberty University now has the most pro-gun policy among local colleges and universities. Though, generally speaking, it is one of several colleges and universities nationwide who has recently embraced the rights of gun owners (it should be noted that not all the colleges and universities willfully embraced gun rights, some were forced to uphold state law and by default recognize gun rights, i.e. the Oregon University System).