Jerry Falwell Jr., the president of Liberty University, urged students to buy guns in a speech Friday, according to the New York Times. Falwell said that students should apply for concealed-carry permits and that, if more people did, "we could end those Muslims," according to the Times. Falwell's offensive and misguided comments are apparently a common train of thought though, because gun sales have spiked after the shooting in San Bernardino, California, that left 14 people dead, according to TIME.
Falwell said that it blows his mind when people like President Barack Obama call for stricter gun laws in the wake of mass shootings, because Falwell sees guns as the solution — not the problem. "I’ve always thought if more good people had concealed-carry permits, then we could end those Muslims before they walked in and killed us,” Falwell said to applause, according to the Times. “Let’s teach them a lesson if they ever show up here." Falwell tweeted Saturday that he actually meant only extremist terrorists, and not all Muslims.
Not only are Falwell's comments dangerous and offensive to Muslims around the world who do not condone violence and have actively spoken out against extremism, but his idea is actually being taken seriously. The day after the San Bernardino shooting, people rushed to gun stores to purchase more weapons, according to ABC News. And, the New York Times found that more Americans had their backgrounds checked to buy guns on Black Friday this year than any other day on record. Sam Paredes, spokesman for Gun Owners of America, told ABC that the rush probably happened because people fear that lawmakers will restrict the rights of responsible gun owners, so they're mindset is something like "better get them before they're gone."
But Falwell's comments show that the logic of people buying guns after a mass shooting might not be as constitutionally protected as Paredes would like to think. Buying guns to exercise a right to bear arms against the state, which is actually what the second amendment protects, seems much more reasonable than buying weapons to "end those Muslims." Falwell's comments make the gun problem in America glaringly clear: people are not buying weapons to protect against tyranny of government — they're buying weapons, in some cases, to take up arms against other citizens that they think pose a threat.
Falwell and other gun advocates would like to believe that citizens wielding weapons would've been able to stop the shooters in California. But, given the fact that many people who receive gun permits often receive zero to a minimum amount of training with weapons, there's no real evidence that an armed civilian would be successful in stopping a mass shooter.
Further, purchasing a weapon because you believe an entire group of people is a threat will only result in more hate and violence, not less. The Times found that Muslim-Americans are experiencing death threats, assaults, and vandalism in numbers comparable to their experiences after the 9/11 attacks. Comments like Falwell's not only tell Americans to buy guns, which they're doing, but they also tell Americans exactly who to aim the guns at: Muslims.