After recently permitting students to keep concealed weapons on campus, Liberty University is seeking a permit to build an on-campus shooting range. The facility would be the first NRA-approved on-campus shooting range in the United States.
— Yahoo News (@YahooNews) December 10, 2016
— 13WHAM (@13WHAM) December 13, 2016
The outdoor facility will include a pistol range, rifle range, 3-gun competition range, and instructional area. Eventually, there will be an indoor range as well.
Liberty University intends to open the facility to the public, and the student body. The school intends to host competitions and provide the community with firearms training.
Liberty spokesman Len Stevens, speaking to Yahoo, said that the project was motivated by the popularity of Liberty’s handgun safety course. Almost 900 students have completed the class since it was introduced 2 years ago. Now, the existing facility has been judged inadequate because of its popularity.
According to Yahoo, Stevens stated that Liberty University’s, “No. 1 consideration in the design process is participant safety.” The facility, and any/all competitions will be overseen by trained staff.
According to Liberty University Planning and Construction Coordinator Brad Butler:
Around three hundred and fifty universities in this country participate in some form of competition shooting, and around thirty of those universities own outdoor shooting facilities off campus. However, Liberty will be the first university to have nationally recognized ranges that meet NRA and NCAA guideline standards and be able to host Olympic shooting sports on its central campus property.
The shooting range will be located near Camp Hydaway, Liberty University’s outdoor recreation facility.
This move is a part of a progressive increase in students’ ability to exercise Constitutionally-protected gun rights at Liberty University. Last year, Jerry Falwell, Jr., president of Liberty University, encouraged students to exercise their Second Amendment rights in order to prevent loss of life during a possible terrorist attack. This statement came soon after terrorist attacks in San Bernardino, CA, killed 14 people. Falwell believes that armed citizens can mitigate the loss of life caused by similar violent attacks.
In a similar fashion, after a recent attack at Ohio State University, in which a man attacked and seriously injured 11 people, Ohio lawmakers approved a bill that would allow licensed gun owners to carry concealed weapons on Ohio college campuses. The bill is awaiting signature by Ohio governor John Kasich to become effective.
Soon after Falwell’s statement, Liberty students were allowed to carry concealed weapons on campus, and keep firearms in the dorms, as long as they are kept locked up in a safe. Students requested that the university’s ban on weapons be lifted in order to have easier access to personal, legally-owned weapons in case of a terrorist attack or similar emergency. Students not comfortable with the policy can request a different roommate.