Come this fall, Liberty University, the world's largest Christian University and America's fifth largest university, will allow students who are 21 or older with concealed handgun permits from the state to keep their weapons inside their dorm rooms with permission from the school.
Liberty President Jerry Falwell told The News & Advance that the university's board of trustees gave him the green light last week to update the school's concealed-carry policy.
Liberty University's current gun control policy, last updated in 2013, already allows students, faculty and staff to carry guns on campus.
Regular students of Liberty University who have a valid concealed weapons permit recognized by the state, and are approved by the Liberty University Police Department to carry a concealed weapon, may possess and carry that weapon on campus and in all university facilities except residence halls. They are allowed to store the approved weapon in a secured container or compartment in their vehicle while on university property.
The board of trustees, according to the Advance, passed a resolution at its on-campus meeting last week allowing Falwell to make changes to the school's gun policy at his discretion.
Falwell told the Advance that limiting approved students with concealed carry permits to storing their weapons in the glove compartment of their vehicles can be difficult when their vehicles can be as far away as a 15-minute bus ride on the growing campus. The change in the gun policy, says Falwell, is to help these students.
Not many people will be affected by the policy change, according to Falwell, because only students 21 years and older are eligible for gun permits from the state. Of the 200 students who are 21 and older that live in residence halls, Falwell said only about 20 of them have concealed carry permits.
He further noted that the university will also provide safes for students who want to keep guns in the dorms but "that could change in the future." The students will be required to put the guns in the safes immediately on entering the dorm and keep the guns inside the safe as long as they are in the dorm.
Liberty became the only Lynchburg-area college to allow concealed weapons on campus — and one of the most gun-friendly campuses in Virginia — when it lifted a ban on concealed weapons outdoors on campus in 2011, according to the Advance.
"It was because of what happened just an hour and a half up the road at Virginia Tech," Falwell told students during a convocation on Dec. 9, 2015, explaining why he asked the LU board to make the change in 2011.
"More than 30 innocent students and facility were just murdered viciously and none of them had the ability to protect themselves.
From the day that happened, I thought we needed to do something here at Liberty."
Liberty University currently has more than 14,500 students attending classes at the Lynchburg, Virginia, campus and more than 95,000 students from all 50 states and 90 countries taking courses through Liberty University Online.