The president of a Christian US university has called on students and staff to carry concealed weapons on campus after the San Bernardino shootings in California, saying gun permits would "end those Muslims".
Jerry Falwell Jr, the president of Liberty University in Virginia, told an audience of around 10,000 people at the campus that he's started carrying a gun since the shootings and called on pupils, teachers and staff to apply for permits.
"I've always thought if more good people had concealed carry permits, then we could end those Muslims before they walked in," he said.
The final words of his statement couldn't be clearly heard on a video, The Associated Press reported.
He later told news agency on Saturday that he was referring to Syed Farook and Tashfeen Malik, the husband and wife who shot and killed 14 people at a party in San Bernardino on Wednesday.
Following the San Bernardino shootings, which left 14 dead, Falwell said he began carrying a .25-caliber handgun in his back pocket. He said he has had a permit for more than year.
During his address on Friday, Falwell mentioned the weapon and reached around, seemingly to fetch it.
"Is it illegal to pull it out? I don't know," he said, laughing.
Asked if he was concerned by the prospect of thousands of armed young people on campus, Falwell said Virginia has a minimum age of 21 for a carry-conceal permit, so only older students would be armed.
Falwell's message is apparently being followed after he claimed more than 100 people had asked Liberty police about a free class to obtain a permit to carry a concealed weapon.
Falwell also said he believed the Lynchburg campus needed to be prepared for more mass killings. He cited the 2007 massacre of 32 people at Virginia Tech, the deadliest mass shooting in modern US history, which happened less than 100 miles southwest of Liberty.
"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.
More than 14,000 students are enrolled at Liberty.
Falwell's remarks were rebuked by the Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe, who called the comments "reckless."
"My administration is committed to making Virginia an open and welcoming Commonwealth, while also ensuring the safety of all of our citizens," McAuliffe said in a statement issued late Saturday. "Mr Falwell's rash and repugnant comments detract from both of those crucial goals."
Liberty University was founded by Falwell's father, Jerry Falwell Sr., a US conservative and Baptist minister who founded The Moral Majority, a political group linked with the Christian right and Republican Party.
His comments on topics like gay Americans, apparently blaming them, along with other groups, for the 9/11 attacks, made him a reviled figure to some.Suggest a correction