No thinking, responsible person who knows anything about the teenage or young adult brain would openly advocate that students at any university be allowed to openly carry firearms on campus.
Yet, that is what Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr. did Friday at the Christian college’s convocation. His comments on the Lynchburg, Va., campus followed Wednesday’s mass shooting at a holiday party in San Bernardino, Calif., where 14 people were killed and 21 others were wounded.
Mass shootings also have occurred at more than 20 college campuses this year in the United States, according to Time magazine. They have included Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Ore., in October; Texas Southern University in Houston in October; Sacramento City College, Sacramento, Calif., in September; Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff in September; Lane College, Jackson, Tenn., in April; Bethune-Cookman University, Daytona Beach, Fla., in February; and the University of South Carolina in Columbia in February.
It’s not that shootings on campuses aren’t a problem. It’s that putting firearms in the hands of people whose brains have not fully mature could lead to an even bigger problem.
Never miss a local story.
MIT researchers note that the “human brain does not reach full maturity until at least the mid-20s.” Some parents and college professors would even question whether that age range is too low.
Yet, Falwell, son of the late often-controversial religious leader, Jerry Falwell Sr., thought that encouraging teens and young adults on campus to carry firearms was a good idea. “It just blows my mind that the president of the United States (says) that the answer to circumstances like (the San Bernardino mass shooting) is more gun control,” the younger Falwell said.
He was cheered loudly, explaining that he had was packing and if people at the San Bernardino shooting had been similarly armed that tragedy might have been prevented. To more loud applause, he said, “I’ve always thought that if more good people had concealed-carry permits, then we could end those Muslims before they walked in.”
He later explained that his “those Muslim” comment was meant to refer to Islamic terrorists and those who were responsible for the attacks in Paris and San Bernardino.
Since the start of the war on terrorism after 9/11 there has been a great concern that all Muslims would be depicted as the enemy. Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama have it right in discouraging people from going that far. Muslim groups have held marches like one on Saturday in Northeast Kansas City and remained outspoken against acts of terrorism by those who profess to worship Islam.
Falwell appears to not get all of that.
But that’s probably why he assumes that teens and young adults carrying concealed weapons during a highly mentally and emotionally stressful time in their lives on a crowded college campus also would be a good idea.
“I just wanted to take this opportunity to encourage all of you to get your permit,” Falwell said. “We offer a free course. Let’s teach them a lesson if they ever show up here.”
Again, who are “they”?
Liberty University’s board of trustees in April 2013 approved a policy enabling students and faculty members with permits to carry concealed firearms on campus except in residence halls.
The MIT report, however, makes more sense than officials do at the largest private nonprofit university in the country also known as the largest Christian university in the world. The MIT report said: “As a number of researchers have put it, ‘the rental car companies have it right.’
“The brain isn't fully mature at 16, when we are allowed to drive, or at 18, when we are allowed to vote or at 21, when we are allowed to drink, but closer to 25, when we are allowed to rent a car.”