President Donald Trump met with members of the gaming industry and game critics on Thursday with a screening of over a minute montage of bloody images found in video games, and commented: “This is violent, isn’t it?”
The meeting was a reaction to the school shooting in Parkland, Florida on Feb. 14 that left 17 people dead. The 19-year-old shooter, Nikolas Cruz reportedly had a history of behavioral problems and bullied others on social media. He was also an avid video game player.
While violence in video games may influence the behavior of its consumers, it isn’t the cause of school shootings which are happening across the country.
Games like “Fortnite Battle Royale” and “Call of Duty: WWII” are among some of the hottest and trendiest games with daily players reaching the millions. The general objective for both titles is simple: kill or be killed.
As thoughts and prayers seem to be the most common response to school shootings, it’s easy to start pointing fingers at who or what is to blame for these tragedies. But the correlation between video games and violence is nonexistent.
This supposed connection has even been argued in a 2011 U.S. Supreme Court case. The justices stated that there wasn’t conclusive evidence to prove video games lead to aggressive behavior.
Trump conversely said during a White House meeting on school safety that he’s seen a greater amount of people concluding that children are being influenced by video games.
Survivor of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting, Chris Grady disagrees. A huge fan of first-person shooter games, Grady responded to the president’s statement by saying he could never see himself take the life of one of his fellow peers at school.
A greater call to action has rightfully been made for gun control as a result of the recent school shooting. Students, like Grady, have taken actively voiced their concerns.
While there is no concrete evidence as to why these shootings are recurring, the issues of access to assault weapons and insufficient background checks have gone unaddressed by the Trump administration.
Many politicians validate these as possible causes for school shootings, but there has been no significant measures taken to enforce gun regulations. In fact, the Trump administration overturned a regulation back in 2017 that prevented people with certain mental health conditions from buying firearms.
Between 11.5 million and 16 million people in the U.S. have intermittent explosive disorder, a behavioral disorder that causes people to have violent outbursts and aggressive impulses, according to the National Institutes of Health.
Combine that statistic with no federal regulation or federal law restricting anyone 18 or older from buying an assault rifle and America is living a nightmare — one with no extra lives or a checkpoint to undo a mistake.
While playing video games players may experience such outbursts that may cause aggressive behavior, but as for the actual content of the game, shooting a 360-degree no-scope across a map isn’t going to be enough for someone to start another killing spree like what happened in Parkland.
The controversy should not focus on violent content in video games. Instead politicians need to stay focused on more viable explanations for the frequency of these school shootings. Mental health cannot be the sole reason either. The accessibility of assault weapons is a good start and an issue that this government can no longer ignore.