A newly-released video shows a University of California, Irvine professor using his classroom as a bully pulpit for gun control in the wake of the San Bernardino shooting that left 14 dead and 17 injured.
The video was obtained by the website Campus Reform and shows professor Richard Symanski taking five minutes out of class time to editorialize against guns. The video is surreptitiously recorded by one of Symanski’s students.
Symanski is in the classroom to teach an introductory biology course, but he instead decides to lecture his captive audience on the need to implement gun restrictions similar to those in Australia or the United Kingdom. At the video’s beginning, he admits he has no justification for talking about gun control in his class, but wants to do so anyway especially because his class has so many freshman who could be pushed into becoming anti-gun activists.
“We are in a situation where Australia had a situation like ours a number of years ago, and Australia said, ‘look we’re just losing too many people’ … [and they] went out and bought guns from everybody; now it is extremely difficult to buy a gun in Australia and very few people get killed,” Symanski says.
Symanski also cites articles in several news publications, such as The Washington Post, claiming America has had over 350 mass shootings so far this year, more than one per day. This figure actually relies on a definition of mass shooting chosen by anti-gun activists, and includes situations like murder-suicides, botched robberies and attacks where nobody is killed. (RELATED: 355 Is A Meaningless Number When It Comes To Mass Shootings)
Symanski then says the National Rifle Association (NRA) is to blame for Wednesday’s shooting, and argues there should be an exception to the Second Amendment for “automatic weapons.”
“Who’s the big culprit of this?” he asks the class, rhetorically. “It’s the NRA—the National Rifle Association—which is enormously powerful in this country, in a way that you and I can’t imagine.”
Symanski cites several standard arguments in favor of drastically curtailing gun rights, among them the idea that the Second Amendment is outdated because guns were simpler when it was enacted.
“We had a muzzleloader that took five minutes to load the goddamn thing, and then unless I was this close somebody I couldn’t hit them, it was impossible,” he says. “We’re not dealing with a muzzleloader that takes five minutes to load; we’re dealing with automatic weapons, that are just bang-bang-bang-bang, and like that you can kill 12 or 14 people.”
Symanski urges his class to become politically evolved in gun issues.
“If you want a cause, get on a bandwagon to get these guns outlawed, and do something about the Second Amendment,” he says to wrap up the sermon. “Sorry for the preaching.” At no point in the five-minute video does Symanski encounter opposition, or invite any dissent.
Peter Van Voorhis, the student who recorded the video, tells Campus Reform Symanski is typically an open liberal in class, but Thursday’s incident was more flagrant than usual.
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