UA-76843172-1

A virtual explanation for a real problem

Theodore R. Griffiths
Staff Writer

There is one group of Americans who fear the future more than the rest of us: Republican gun owners. They toss and turn at night, sweating through their sheets, screaming when they think about more thorough background checks and a possible ban on assault weapons. They can’t accept that their position on the availability of guns is stubborn and lacking reason, so they point their fingers (or guns, who knows?) at a new target. A target completely unrelated to real-world violence, with results proving to be inconclusive in psychological studies when compared to other forms of violent media (news programs included). Their new threat is video games.
Lamar Alexander, a Republican Senator from Tennessee, has even decided that video games are a bigger problem than guns. While he says this, some people actually take his opinion seriously, become angry at video games, then watch that nights new act of war in high definition (hopefully 1080p) completely oblivious to the irony.
Movies, music, and video games have been blamed for tragedies in the past, but it always seems like the finger pointing is done to stop the use of common sense in the majority of media-obsessed Americans. If I can be real for a few moments, then let me ask this question: Did Adam Lanza and his gun kill 26 individuals or did his video games become pixelated realities and commit mass murder? Common sense, it is a gift that we as humans all possess.
If you wish to go down the psychological route then the only answer is to outlaw all forms of entertainment and media. This includes those news outlets that dedicate hours to justifying the use of assault weapons because apparently video games are the only problem. I say this because although it is true that a slight increase in aggression occurs when viewing violent footage, video games are indistinguishable from any other violent medium.
Now the situation becomes rather sticky. The gun obsessed Americans who claim that their rights are being stripped away if assault weapons are outlawed, must now attack the rights of every other American citizen so that they can have their way. I don’t see a difference in taking away the rights of gamers or gun owners, but apparently Lamar Alexander must speak beyond my comprehension level. Speaking of Lamar Alexander and his Republican friends, where is that small government that you love so much now?
There is no way around this problem. If violent footage truly does translate directly to violent behavior (which it does not), then why blame only video games? Lamar Alexander should have been blaming his own government and the country he works for. If Battlefield 3 creates a violent person, then surely coverage of our president ordering drone strikes on weddings and slaughtering people in reality must create an absolute monster.
Unfortunately drone strikes and real world violence are a sensitive subject and a more complex target, so video games become the scapegoat for a government and media that care more about ratings than facts. Think about how easy it must be to show footage of a headshot in VATS from Fallout 3, then feed 40-somethings a story about how that is making their children violent. The modern parent never wants to take responsibility for how horribly their child developed, but now they have an excuse, a story to feed their other 40-something friends with honor students.
Subtracting a big brother type government from the equation, there is only one way to deal with issues like violence and that is through strict regulations on weapons, parents who don’t depend on a television to raise children, and the application of psychology to the former points.
Citizens must have more than just a simple background check to acquire a gun. There needs to be an in-depth psychological analysis of each and every individual who applies for a gun permit. For instance, the United Kingdom has gun laws that would make Ted Nugent threaten Obama’s life again, yet they only have 0.07 intentional homicides committed with a firearm per 100,000 inhabitants, compared to America’s 3.0 intentional homicides. Keep in mind that the UK has the same access to violent video games, movies, and television that Americans do.
If it is not obvious to you that video games are not the root of violence in America, then I’m sorry that I disrupted you when you could have been listening to Glenn Beck or watching Bill O’Reilly. We live in a society that needs an excuse, needs simple solutions, and needs a lazy alternative. Unfortunately this time video games have earned that honor.