Virtual violence does not cause real life killing


David Micali, Crier Staff

After a mass shooting shocks our nation, people always ask “why?” and then the finger pointing begins. Gun rights advocates, such as the NRA, have tried to focus the conversation away from guns and put the blame on something else.

One of the most absurd excuses for why it seems that mass shootings occur every other month is violent video games. Yes, the reason why there are mass shootings is because of video games. That is ridiculous and simply false.

Let me start off by saying that I enjoy video games and, as a result, may be a little biased. However, after doing some research, I can find no conclusive evidence that supports the claim that video games are the cause of these mass shootings.

Video games have been considered the cause of mass shootings since April 20, 1999, when two gunmen and former students opened fire at Columbine High School in Columbine, Colorado, killing 15, including themselves.

In response, President Clinton ordered two federal agencies with the task of investigating the marketing practices used to sell violent entertainment such as movies, TV shows, music, and, you guessed it, video games.

In 2007, following a shooting that left 32 people dead at Virginia Tech, Mitt Romney declared that “pornography and violence” in music, movies, TV and video games were to blame, according to the New York Times.

The NRA took a stance on the issue following the death of twenty children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012, when its executive vice-president, Wayne LaPierre, called the video game industry a “corrupting shadow industry that sells, and sows, violence against its own people,” adding that “guns don’t kill people. Video games, the media and Obama’s budget kill people”.

There are several problems with the belief that video games cause mass shootings. Primarily, mass shootings have occurred prior to the rise in popularity of video games in the 1970s.

Notable examples include a rampage that left thirteen people dead in Camden, NJ on September 6, 1949 and a shooting that left seventeen people dead at the University of Texas on August 1, 1966.

Furthermore, there is no correlation between the rise in the popularity of video games and the amount of crimes committed by juveniles.

According to Professor Henry Jenkins of the University of Southern California, in 2005, juvenile crime in the United States was at “a 30-year low” despite the fact that a large number of juveniles play video games. If video games did cause violence in children, then one would expect the amount crime committed by juveniles to increase, not decrease.

Finally, excluding the United States, countries where video games are popular do not experience the level of gun related deaths we do.

For example, according to the New York Times, in 2016, about “60 percent of the population of Japan played video games” and it was home to the third largest video game market. However, there were only six gun deaths in Japan in 2014 compared to over 33,000 deaths in the United States.

The main difference between Japan and the United States is Japan has banned possessing, carrying, selling, or buying handguns or rifles.

Another example, the United Kingdom, was home to “the sixth largest video game market worldwide as of 2016.” In 2016, there were only 26 homicide victims who were killed with a gun. The United Kingdom, like Japan, has strict gun laws.

There is little to no evidence to back up Mr. LaPierre’s claim that video games are killing people. In fact, the evidence seems to suggest that what Mr. LaPierre is saying is downright false. It is unclear if Mr. LaPierre actually believes what he said or whether he was misplacing blame onto anything but guns following a horrendous mass shooting.

Video games are not the problem, the problem is that people who should not have guns are getting guns, laws are not being followed, and warning signs are being missed.

Mass shooters do not commit their heinous acts because they played Grand Theft Auto V or Battlefield 1; they do what they do because they are filled with hatred for their fellow man.

Mass shootings can be prevented, but they cannot be prevented by casting blame to avoid asking the real questions. It is important to ask “why”? Why were the warning signs ignored? Why was a person who couldn’t buy beer allowed to buy a weapon of war? Why, after 19 years, are things like this still happening in our country?