After another school shooting, President Donald Trump tweeted that violent video games were to blame.
This asinine talking point is echoed by other politicians and conservative news sources. However, there is no proven connection between violent video games and gun violence.
The argument that video games are the cause of mass shootings gained traction after the 1999 Columbine High School massacre, where two students killed 13 of their fellow classmates.
After the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in 2012, National Rifle Association Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre called the gaming industry a “corrupting shadow.” LaPierre cast blame specifically on “Grand Theft Auto,” “Mortal Kombat” and “Bulletstorm.”
Trump recently stated, “I’m hearing more and more people say the level of violence on video games is really shaping young people’s thoughts.” However, this assertion — like many of Trump’s claims — does not hold up to scrutiny.
The American Psychological Association released a study in 2015 on the issue and concluded that violent video games do have an impact on aggression.
Nevertheless, there was insufficient evidence linking violent video games to violent crimes. Politicians still cite this study as proof and use video games as a scapegoat.
In 2017, the APA released a statement requesting that politicians refrain from making these outlandish claims. Politicians and journalists who misquote studies to promote their own beliefs mislead the public as well as their constituents, the statement said.
A 2013 study reviewed by The New York Times supported the findings of the APA study and said there is a link between video games and aggression, but there was no evidence of any long-term negative effects on a person’s behavior.
In the eyes of the U.S. Supreme Court, there is no link either. In 2011, the court rejected the notion that violent video games promote real world violence. The Supreme Court it ruled 7-2 in the case of Brown v. Entertainment Merchants Association. The case arose after California tried to ban the sale of violent video games to children.
Whenever there is a mass shooting, it seems like certain politicians and the NRA are waiting with bated breath, hoping that the shooter played video games.
It became easier to blame gaming than to actually research and explain the psychological issues mass shooters tend to have. The fact that video game violence is being pushed by the White House and in particular, the president, is downright embarrassing.
These same video games are sold across the globe, yet it is only in the United States where these mass shootings regularly happen.
It is time that the United States comes to realize that demonizing video games is not the solution to prevent mass shootings. Instead, the White House and Congress should work to provide legislation and gun laws that prevent any further violence.
Gamers face a ton of criticism, some of which is valid. While there are countless stories of gamers making new friends and having amazing experiences, there are just as many stories of how vile, racist and misogynistic gamers can be.
When taking into consideration what instigates mass shootings, it is unclear who or what is to blame. There is little research done about gun violence.
A 1996 spending bill amendment known as the Dickey Amendment prohibits the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from spending money to “advocate or promote gun control.”
Congress needs to lift the Dickey Amendment and allow the CDC to properly research and study this public health crisis. Policy should not be passed on a reactionary basis. Instead, there needs to be an increase in evidence-based policy.