Will Banning Video Games Fix Gun Violence?

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In the wake of yet another school shooting — and I mean Parkland but I could mean any of the other school shooting that have happened since Parkland — our politicians have rushed to take bold measures to keep our children safe from gun violence. By “take bold measures” I mean “Tweet ‘thoughts and prayers’” and “pass a bill declaring porn dangerous.” Our dear President has added to those bold measures by forming a committee to discuss…(drumroll)…the role of violent video games in school shootings.

I mean, it makes sense! Clearly the answer to someone using a gun to kill many people is to regulate the sale and possession of digital guns only. Real guns are fine, but a gun made of pixels is incredibly dangerous and cannot fall into the wrong hands. I’ve fired a real gun before and it was a lot of fun but nowhere near as fun as firing a fully-charged particle cannon into the unsuspecting face of a cyborg ninja who is trying desperately to reflect it back on me but YOU CAN’T REFLECT PARTICLES, NINJA IDIOT. Ahem. Yes, the problem is video game guns.

So Trump gathered a group of experts in the field of video game violence, and by experts I mean a few people who own video game companies and three idiots who hate video games.

If he had included experts, it would have been tough to find any that support the notion that video games lead to an increase in violence among children. So instead, he invited people like Representative Vicky Hartzler, who said, “Even though I know there are studies that have said there is no causal link, as a mom and a former high school teacher, it just intuitively seems that prolonged viewing of violent nature would desensitize a young person.” To be clear, pretty much every study says there’s no causal link, and being a mom with “intuition” doesn’t exactly do anything to rebut that, but thanks, Vicky.

And when I say “pretty much” every study says there’s no causal link, I want to mention that there are some studies that do find that violent video games can increase aggression in very particular circumstances, like if they play for more than three hours a day or if they are already prone to aggression.

The good news is that the violent video game meeting didn’t seem to actually go anywhere. Vicky Hartzler says she’s up for regulating imaginary guns, but Trump didn’t seem particularly interested, probably because he remembered he had a Werther’s candy in his desk and he wanted to make sure he ate it before he had to leave for another golf outing. Being president is hard.

But the bad news is that this was such an obvious, stupid distraction from what actually has to be done to stop school shootings, which is to regulate real guns that kill real people instead of imaginary guns that kill imaginary people. I can’t believe I even have to say that, but what the hell, it’s 2018. Next Trump will have a meeting about the problem with imaginary guns in movies, and he’ll invite some film executives, Betsy DeVos, and probably Chuck Norris so that he can delay and distract some more and also maybe meet Chuck Norris. I wonder how many school shootings will happen between now and then?

Rebecca Watson

Rebecca is a writer, speaker, YouTube personality, and unrepentant science nerd. In addition to founding and continuing to run Skepchick, she hosts Quiz-o-Tron, a monthly science-themed quiz show and podcast that pits comedians against nerds. There is an asteroid named in her honor. Twitter @rebeccawatson Mastodon Instagram @actuallyrebeccawatson TikTok @actuallyrebeccawatson YouTube @rebeccawatson BlueSky

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  1. >Real guns are fine…

    Not that I agree with the sentient Cheeto occupying the White House about video game violence, but the sale and possession of real guns IS regulated. I would prefer the government practice enforcing the current laws restricting the sale and possession of firearms before we add more laws.

    1. Basically, yeah.

      Here’s the funny part: All these school massacres (though still statistically pretty rare), people are trying to figure out what causes kids to snap and no one looks at the elephant in the room: Every last one of these murderers had exposure to white supremacist or other far-right (e.g., MRA, pickup artist) subculture. (Just so we’re aware: When I’m talking “far-right”, I don’t just mean “idiots who think supply-side economics will work this time”. I mean the idiots who think there’s a secret plot to commit genocide against whites. Whole different animal, though the two are codependent on each other.)

      There’s your X factor, ladies and gentlemen. Not exposure to guns, not exposure to video games or violent movies, not even exposure to icosahedral dice. Exposure to Nazis.

  2. I should mention something else: I know some people who actually voted for Bush because Gore was known for censoring music, and Lieberman for censoring video games. (Another onanistic “unity ticket” in the style of Clinton/Kaine.)

    Keep in mind that before the NRA took this line, we’d experienced it in the 90s with the Clintons and their sycophants.

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