News / USA

Guns and Video Games - Looking for a Culprit

Ubisoft staff demonstrate the
Ubisoft staff demonstrate the "Far Cry 3" video game in Los Angeles, California, June 4, 2012.
The rampage that killed 26 children and teachers at Connecticut’s Sandy Hook Elementary School last month has triggered a backlash against the prevalence of guns and violent video games in America – a reaction that experts say is natural in times of distress.
 
Connecticut police say 20-year old Adam Lanza used a Bushmaster AR-15 semi-automatic assault-type rifle to kill the children and teachers Dec. 14. Before the attack, Lanza reportedly spent hours playing violent online games on his computer.
 
A week after the shootings, the executive vice president of the National Rifle Association rejected any suggestions that the widespread prevalence of guns in American society was to blame for the Connecticut shootings and others before it. Instead, said the NRA’s Wayne LaPierre, the culprit was the video game industry, which “sells, and sows, violence against its own people.”
 
Now, a Connecticut group has begun collecting and disposing of violent video games to save kids from what it said is their unhealthy influence.
 
Not everyone is convinced this will be effective.
 
“Before it was books, it was comic books. It was television. It was radio. It was any number of things in our culture where they [i.e., people] reflect violence,” said Kamy Akhavan, president of ProCon.org, a California-based non-profit educational research group.
 
Recent mass-shootings in the U.S.
Recent mass-shootings in the U.S.
“We live in a violent culture,” he said. “But whether [or not] video games are the cause is absolutely subject to debate.”
 
Akhavan said technology has made video game violence more realistic, blurring the line between reality and fantasy. Even so, he said most people are able to distinguish between the two.
 
About 97 percent of 12 to 17-year old kids in America play video games and, according to Akhavan, juvenile violent crimes have declined from around 1995 to the present even as video game sales quadrupled.
 
And Chris Ferguson, chairman of the Department of Psychology and Communication at Texas A&M International University, noted that not all the killers in recent incident were video game players.
 
Ferguson said the mass killers in recent incidents tended to be anti-social or suffer from mental health problems. He said such people tend to react to “what they perceive as a major loss in their life” – things that are “tangible and practical” instead of what goes on in a fictional universe.

Visitors play ''Diablo'' at an exhibition stand during the Gamescom 2011 fair in Cologne, Germany, August 17, 2011.Visitors play ''Diablo'' at an exhibition stand during the Gamescom 2011 fair in Cologne, Germany, August 17, 2011.
x
Visitors play ''Diablo'' at an exhibition stand during the Gamescom 2011 fair in Cologne, Germany, August 17, 2011.
Visitors play ''Diablo'' at an exhibition stand during the Gamescom 2011 fair in Cologne, Germany, August 17, 2011.
“Exposure to the kind of fictional violence you see in movies or television just doesn’t have the right kind of emotional impact to trigger violence in individuals, whether they have a  predisposition or not,” said Ferguson.
 
He said there are two different groups of individuals – people who like the video games and people who like guns. And he suggested that the NRA is trying to distract people by talking about video games rather than gun violence.
 
The NRA did not respond to several requests to comment on the issue.
 
But Dave Workman, communications director for the Citizen’s Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, said the acts of a lone man in Connecticut should not be used in an attempt to justify taking away guns from millions of peaceful gun owners.
 
He noted that millions of video game players don’t commit crimes just as “millions of law-abiding gun owners who own the same kind of firearm [used in the Connecticut shootings] and they didn’t commit any crimes with those guns.“
 
“They shouldn’t be penalized for the act of an individual,” Workman said. “And their guns shouldn’t be demonized simply because somebody picks one of them up and misuses it in a crime.”
 
Workman accused critics of gun ownership of going after firearms whenever a “high-profile but rare incident” like the Connecticut shootings takes place. And any ban on firearms, he predicted, would be ineffective.
 
 “You cannot guarantee, no matter what you put in place, that a criminal or a madman is not going to be able to get his hands on a firearm,” he said.
 
Regardless of where the finger of blame is pointed, said Texas A&M’s Ferguson, it is important not to be distracted by “something that is not going to be very helpful, whether it’s video games or movies or whatever else.”
 
“During a time of emotional crisis like this, after such a tragic shooting, it’s very, very natural … to kind of grasp around and look for some sort of answer,” Ferguson concluded.

You May Like

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video VOA EXCLUSIVE: US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Jack
January 10, 2013 9:48 AM
Researching the background of the "shooters" involved might help provide some clues as to what caused them to carry out such acts. In depth research needs to be undertaken by a professional team of people going back several years maybe more, on a database.This may ultimately provide the answers and help craft better legislation so urgently needed.

by: Steve Macintyre from: San Jose
January 08, 2013 1:11 PM
Why does the media keep asking the wrong questions and pointing fingers at videogames and movies? Anyone who has been following these stories know that it is ANTIDEPRESSANT MEDICATION that is causing these people to lose their inhibitions and do things they normally wouldn't! Google SSRIs and violence. Antidepressants are responsible for many suicides, homicides, and massacres. Also be sure to Google Mike Rivero and WhatReallyHappened for real news.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs