Violence at Liberty University

It has become an all-too-familiar report from college campuses.  Virginia Tech, Northern Illinois, Santa Monica College…the list gets depressingly long.

Most recently, the conservative evangelical world has been shocked by news of a student shot dead near the campus of Liberty University.  One Liberty junior told the Christian Post, “This is the last place I would ever imagine something like this would happen.”

The incident seems to have resulted from a physical confrontation between a sledgehammer-wielding student and a gun-wielding police officer, according to a report in the Washington Post.  This does not seem to fit the profile of a gun-wielding young person taking out as many fellow students as possible before turning the gun on himself.

Nevertheless, the fact that it happened at conservative bastion Liberty University has raised some eyebrows.  Some critics assumed at first that this violence must have resulted from Liberty’s ballyhooed decision to allow students to carry concealed firearms.  As President Jerry Falwell Jr. said at the time that policy was implemented, “I think it’ll continue to create a higher level of security on campus than what was found at Virginia Tech.”  Liberty also recently famously courted a student who had gotten into trouble in high school for packing heat.

It seemed at first that Liberty’s gun chickens had come home to roost.  But to be fair, the recent student death at Liberty did not result from gun-packing students.  Nevertheless, many in the conservative evangelical community hold Liberty to a higher standard.  Not only should students eschew mass murder as has happened on less religious campuses, but the campus of Liberty should be safer in every way.

Liberty, after all, was founded to be different than the sorts of secular, pluralistic colleges that have seen the worst campus shootings.

Perhaps as Liberty moves closer to mainstream pluralist colleges in terms of sporting victories (see here, too) and student rules, it will move closer to mainstream colleges in the depressing statistic of student shootings, too.

 

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