In December 2015, Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr. faced immense backlash when he announced that he not only would encourage students to apply for a concealed carry permit, but would also allow those permit holding students to carry firearms on campus.
It was in response to what Falwell saw as a growing threat posed by gun-free zones. He spoke to Fox News's Sean Hannity in the wake of the controversy:
Roughly one year later, Falwell's Liberty University has announced plans to do something that's a first in the U.S.— building an NRA-compliant shooting range on campus.
The range project is expected to be an expensive one, with current estimates putting it at a whooping $1 million for construction and landscape improvement. Once completed, the facility will allow competitive shooting teams a place to train with their trap, skeet, sporting clays and five-stands. It will also feature a 100, 200 and 300-yard rifle range.
In an interview with the Independent Journal Review, Texas state House Representative Matthew Krause, a Liberty University law school alum, said he is among the proud alums and parents who welcome a shooting range on campus.
“Gun ranges provide a safe and knowledgeable place for individuals to become acquainted and proficient with firearms. Knowing my child had a safe and secure environment to learn how to exercise his/her 2nd Amendment rights, would make me feel better, not worse.”
“I would not hesitate to send one of my students to LU if and when they build the gun range. In fact, I would encourage many other universities to do the same.”
Jordan Stein, a government, politics and policy senior at Liberty and founder of Students for Liberty for Gun Rights, told Independent Journal Review that he's “ecstatic” about the development.
“From my experience, Liberty students have a strong passion for the Second Amendment and firearms. This range will certainly continue that tradition and teach responsible firearms handling for the surrounding communities.”
Stein believes that a shooting range on campus will enable more Second Amendment groups such as the NRA, Gun Owners of America, and the National Gun Rights Association to be more active on campus.
Clay Turner, creative director of NRA's America's 1st Freedom magazine, told Independent Journal Review that a gun range on campus will “attract students.”
“Making campuses ”gun-free“ zones is a recent development; when I was in college, we went bird hunting in our free time, so all my friends kept a shotgun in their dorm closets. Firearms were part of our upbringing, and to deny us that right was, frankly, unthinkable. Building a range on campus will attract students for whom firearms are a natural part of their upbringing.”
Liberty University's ongoing efforts to arm and train its students mirror the rise of the campus carry movement across the country, which calls for allowing for students with permits to carry firearms on campus.
Violent attacks like the one at Ohio State University' in November have only heightened the urgency of calls nationwide for concealed carry on campus.
Liberty University is set to open its new gun range in the fall of 2017, according to the Christian Post.