Jerry Falwell Jr’s Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia opens a state-of-the-art gun range. While atheists are asking who would Jesus shoot, this looks at the issue of Liberty University and guns. Also, The Wondering Eagle asks a dark question that needs to be posed in light of evangelical culture, their obsession with guns, paranoia of the federal government and their belief they are being persecuted. Could a Waco or Ruby Ridge standoff happen at Liberty University one day?
“An armed citizenry is the best protection against tyranny. I was shocked when after the Parkland shootings the NRA became the target. The target should have been the NEA (National Education Association)”
Jerry Falwell Jr on NRATV
“We have a very pro-Second Amendment student body.”
Jerry Falwell Jr.
We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith.[a] Because of the joy[b] awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne.
Hebrews 12:2 NLT
Jerry Falwell Jr on NRATV
Universities often pride themselves on expansion and development. As times change and technology marches forward many universities develop programs for their campuses to reflect that change. These are some developments at differing universities around the United States. For example at Auburn University in Alabama they are constructing a new performing arts center, graduate business building, aviation education building, and renovating the engineering research laboratory. Over at the University of Chicago at the Harris School of Public Policy they are in the process of building the Keller Center. This will complement one of the top public policy schools in the United States. Also being renovated at the University of Chicago is the John Crerar Library. This historic library which the university took over has been in operation since 1897. Created will be a computer and data-science hub. Out west at Stanford University that echelon of higher learning is investing in its future. Being built is a new biology building, new graduate residences, and the first new dining hall at the university in twenty years – the Arrillaga Family Dining Hall. Over at Montana State University in Bozeman being worked on and completed in 2019 is the Norm Asbjornson Hall which is a dedicated education labs and classroom facility. Meanwhile at the University of Colorado at Boulder planned construction projects include the aerospace engineering science building, and a new residence hall. Then we get to Jerry Falwell Jr’s Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia. What are they proud of and boasting to the world? Well it’s their university gun range of course.
My History with Guns
Before this post proceeds let me explain my history with guns and my thoughts. My father was a hunter and when he lived in Columbia, Missouri when he worked for the University of Missouri in Columbia he actively hunted. He hunted peasant in Missouri with a German Shorthair Pointer. I grew up influenced by my Dad, and his thoughts on guns made an impact. In the Boy Scouts at summer camp I went to the rifle range when I was younger. In time I became an Eagle Scout. Plus my Dad and I were involved in Ducks Unlimited. I was a member of the Green Wings and won a shotgun at a raffle which I own to this day. I regularly went to Ducks Unlimited with my Dad when I was growing up. From time to time my Dad and I went to a rifle range outside Fresno, California in the foothills. This was quality time that today I treasure.
When I moved from California and attended college in Helena, Montana I was in a sportsmen’s paradise. Hunting season is big and when it opened people would take the country to catch deer and elk. I had a person on my dorm floor that gave me deer sausage at the time. Wasn’t my favorite but I tried a piece. At Carroll College students could bring their guns and lock them in the safe downstairs. In Montana it used to be that college students could keep guns in their dorm rooms. That changed in May of 1990 when someone shot to death two college students in a dorm room at Montana State University in Bozeman. I am trying to remember but I think when I was younger I was a member briefly of the NRA. The NRA at the time was very different than what exists today. At the time is was more of a sportsmen organization that emphasized hunting education and training. It wasn’t as politically active like it is today. In addition to owning a shotgun that I won at Ducks Unlimited when I was younger I have also expressed interest in a handgun my family owns that used to belong to my great-uncle who was Montana’s Governor. Its a family relic, and I want to preserve and protect it. But I write all this to state that I own a gun and am a firm believer in gun sports.
A New Gun Range at the Only “University” in Virginia that has a Concealed-Carry
Liberty rolled out a new concealed-carry ahead of classes in 2016. What brought about the change in the gun policy is the Virginia Tech shooting in 2007. That was when Seung-Hui Cho, a college student who was mentally ill, went on a rampage that left 32 killed. Students at Liberty pay for the gun safe to be installed in their dorm room, and its removal. If you want to read more about the concealed-carry issue you can do so here, here and here.
In 2016 Jerry Falwell Jr. announced that Liberty University will open a state-of-the-art shooting range on campus. This was to be done to promote gun ownership and the value of the second amendment of the United States Constitution. The new complex that was announced by Falwell will also feature pistol, rifle, and shotgun facilities as well as an archery range built into the mountainside of the 7,000 acre campus. The anticipated cost when unveiled is $1 million. In an interview with the Washington Post Jerry Falwell Jr. said the following about the gun range. “This is one of the examples of how Liberty is unique and different. We really had the perfect setting for our own competitive shooting range.” The idea for the gun range came after meeting with Wayne LaPierre who is the executive vice president and chief executive officer of the National Rifle Association which is headquartered in Fairfax, Virginia.
Opening day at the Liberty Gun Range
The gun range at Liberty just recently opened. Its projected cost was much more than anticipated and came to $3 million. The range includes area to fire shotgun, rifle, and pistols. It has been named as the Liberty Mountain Gun Club. However, the university has not performed a risk management study according to what I am reading in the news. Liberty also plans to offer discount rates to law enforcement. It should also be noted that the atheist community has noticed this development and has been critical of it. You can read about that in this Friendly Atheist post, called, “Liberty University Opens “Sophisticated” Gun Range (Just Like Jesus Wanted).” If you would like to read more about gun range you can do so here, here, here and here. Also Jerry Falwell Jr. was featured on NRATV to promote and tout the program. You can watch that presentation here. I took a screen shot and have the picture from that presentation leading this post.
Some Thoughts on Liberty’s Gun Range
Up above I explained my personal views on guns. I decided to share that because of what I am about to say. I honestly have a hard time respecting Liberty University because of the Falwell clan. I still recall our country dealing with September 11, 2001 and the lives lost at the World Trade Center, Shanksville and the Pentagon and Jerry Falwell saying that it was the result of the ACLU, gays, feminists and more. I was pissed off, and his comments were entirely inappropriate. When Falwell died I was grateful that he was gone. Watching the kind words that people said and then watching Falwell on television was night and day. I often wondered if they were speaking about the same person. But now we are dealing with the son. And while I hoped things would improve now I actually miss the original Jerry Falwell in a way. Let me explain why and go into some thoughts.
The policies of Liberty have always been off the wall. To be truthful I have never understood why someone would want to attend there. John Piper is in the Neo-Calvinist camp and I have written about him a lot. His theology is different then Falwell, but when I think of a wasted life I think of someone who picks up a Liberty degree. Jerry Falwell Jr’s response to the Virginia Tech shooting in time was to have concealed-carry on Liberty’s campus. That is so jacked up. The Virginia Tech shooter was mentally ill, and with how some evangelicals are about psychology and psychiatry you can’t even have an honest discussion on mental illness. That is what Liberty should have discussed. That is what campus money and resources should have been poured into. To go from that to a gun range is highly irresponsible, and a waste on resources. For me this shows why a degree from Liberty is going to be useless. In a fundamentalist setting you can never have a top notch education. And when money is going for gun ranges and not educational programs or more then that is a profound loss. This for me also shows how evangelical Christians have a misplaced faith and priorities. The fact that this is playing into atheist criticism which in this case is righteous speaks volumes from my perspective. Jerry Falwell Jr. wants to get more guns into the hands of students, and this is coming from the same crowd that believes they are being persecuted. This leads me into a deep concern that I have to state next.
Given Some Parts of Evangelical Culture Could There be a Ruby Ridge or Waco Situation in Lynchburg, Virginia One Day?
Let me set up what I want to communicate. First I know that its highly unlikely that you will find militia activity at Liberty. Yet there are other issues in evangelicalism that I think could set the stage for a tragedy. And in writing this post I am just asking questions based off culture and history. I am asking questions that I believe should be asked. Keep in mind this this is me openly questioning. There are a number of evangelicals who are into conspiracy theories. September 11, 2001 was an inside job by the CIA. There is an international cartel that wants to control international banking and money. Hillary Clinton was involved in a pedophile ring in a pizza restaurant in NW Washington, D.C. And President Obama is a Kenyan citizen. In the last few years I watched social media of places I used to be involved in and I have shook my head in shame as to what some people believed. So when people have a conspiracy mindset, and they react to the federal government with suspicion can that create problems? For example many evangelicals have a warped perspective of what it means to be persecuted. The honest truth is that many evangelicals are the ones that are doing the persecution of others today. I have met some interesting people and some paranoid people in evangelicalism over the years. Plus some parts of evangelicalism is obsessed with guns and is very much a gun culture. Having explained the issues let me ask this question based on a possible scenario.
Imagine one day the local police in Lynchburg, Virginia get a tip that Liberty is allegedly breaking laws in how they are handling guns or stockpiling weapons at their gun range. The police follow up and Liberty denies this happened. Some people say that Liberty’s own police reinforce what the university is doing. The Lynchburg police go away and focus on other issues. Then in the course of time other incidents of alleged firearms violations are brought to the attention of law enforcement. Word actually gets to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) and they hear about how local law enforcement went to Liberty and thus they decide to approach the school. Due to how some evangelicals are about their guns, combined with their sense of paranoia about the federal government and conspiracy theories; is it possible you could have a stand off between Liberty and a federal law enforcement agency? This is a question that I am asking. based on reading and researching about evangelical Christianity. Could a Waco or Ruby Ridge situation develop in Lynchburg, Virginia? Some of the people who will read this do not know what either event is. Let me briefly describe what happened. On February 28, 1993 the ATF did a raid on the Branch Davidians as led by David Koresh in Waco, Texas. Four ATF agents were killed, and 16 wounded in a massive shootout, and the FBI took over and a dangerous standoff developed. The standoff lasted for 51 days and the FBI then attempted a raid by pumping tear gas into the buildings. A fire broke out and 76 people died. While its a tragedy I will not be an apologist for the Branch Davidians. The FBI did its job. It was a tragedy but I am not into conspiracy theories. The FBI was dealing with a cult and I stand by and support the FBI in what they tried to do. What the federal government did not know was the weapons that were being stockpiled and the paranoia by the people at the Mount Caramel compound. If you want to read more about Waco you can do so here and here. Then you have the Ruby Ridge situation in Naples, Idaho in 1993. An 11 day siege developed when Randy Weaver, members of his immediate family, and friend Kevin Harris resisted agents by the United States Marshall Service (USMS). When the USMS showed up at the Weaver property after he failed to appear in court over firearms violations a shootout occurred that resulted in the death of a Deputy US Marshall, Randy Weaver’s son and the family dog. In a subsequent siege Randy Weaver’s wife was killed by an FBI sniper which happened on the first day of the siege. The siege was ended when Weaver and his family surrendered. You can read more about it here and here. Now please understand I am asking a question. I am asking this question because of my exposure and familiarity to evangelical Christian culture. When you think of how some evangelicals act about guns, deal with paranoia of the federal government, believe they are being persecuted the question must be asked. Can a Waco or Ruby Ridge like situation develop like that in Lynchburg, Virginia with Liberty University? Yes The Wondering Eagle believes that it is possible. This is a troubling post for me to write but this is a question that must be asked. After all Jerry Falwell Jr believes that guns should be made available to students. In a paranoia mindset what is the next step?
If you have Information on Liberty University and Issues you can Publish them here at The Wondering Eagle
This is not the first time I have written about Liberty University. I have written before about this troubled school. You can read more about Liberty in “Recommended Reads on Liberty University: Philip Wagner at the Chronicle of Higher Education Alludes to Stigma of a Liberty University Diploma; Plus Brandon Ambrosino on Liberty’s Alleged Tax Violations in Politico.” In that article I look at some issues that emerged at Liberty recently. One article deals with a graduate from Liberty who talks about the stigma and problem with a Liberty University diploma. The other article deals with alleged tax violations by Liberty. Liberty University will be written about more as time passes. Its with that in mind that I put out the following call for information. If former students would like to explain their experience or issues there they can do so here at this blog. There is a lot going on at Liberty and the surface has barely been scratched. So with that said, let’s scratch it and see what can be found. That is it for the day guys, know that I love you.