Liberty University has liberalized its gun policy to allow visitors, students and staff who have concealed weapons permits to carry guns on campus, reports the Lynchburg, Va., News & Advance. The policy, announced to students this week, replaces a complete ban of firearms on university grounds. Visitors are now permitted to store their weapons in locked cars, while students can apply for permission from campus police to carry a gun on the outdoor grounds or in a locked car. Guns in campus buildings are generally prohibited, although the policy permits some faculty and staff to carry weapons inside buildings with permission by campus police.
Liberty now has the most lenient firearms policy among local colleges and universities. Liberty Chancellor Jerry Falwell Jr. said the new policy will enhance campus safety while increasing convenience for visitors and students who have the proper permits. Richard Hinkley, Liberty's chief of police, said while he supports the policy, it has raised some concerns among his officers. Lifting Liberty's firearms ban has been a hot-button issue in recent years, especially after the Virginia Tech massacre in April 2008 that left 33 dead. A small but vocal band of LU students who align with the activist group, Students for Concealed Carry on Campus, raised the issue with the student government association at least two times in the past three years.