News / USA

Guns and Video Games - Looking for a Culprit

Ubisoft staff demonstrate the "Far Cry 3" video game in Los Angeles, California, June 4, 2012.
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

China Investigates Former Powerful Security Chief

Former security chief and member of Politburo Standing Committee, Zhou Yongkang, under investigation for suspected 'serious disciplinary violation' More

India, US Look to Reset Ties During Kerry Visit

This week's talks will be first high level interaction between two countries since Prime Minister Narendra Modi took charge More

Video Young African Leadership Program Renamed to Honor Mandela

YALI program, launched by President Obama in 2010, aims to build skills in business, entrepreneurship, public management and civic leadership 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.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid