NRA Set To Blame Video Games, Conservative Magazine Says Don't

In America, neither the left nor the right have an exclusive claim on scapegoating violent video games for some societal ill. Both do it in different ways and for different purposes. But tomorrow, the National Rifle Association is expected to blast games and Hollywood in a response to the Connecticut mass killings last week. It's the gun lobby, after all, and a lot of folks are pissed at it, so this appears to be a cheap attempt to shift the blame.

That's why it's noteworthy that The National Review finds little merit with the idea games deserve regulation, or are proximately to blame here, even if the perpetrators of gun slaughters were avid players of violent games. The National Review is as much a conservative institution as the modern NRA, and has been so for much longer. And its deputy managing editor took time to dismantle the mainstream's easily accepted wisdom that violent games and violent behaviour are linked, even after a Supreme Court ruling shot down laws based on such assumptions.

"Video-game restrictions are much like gun laws: More often than not, they're unlikely to help, unconstitutional, or unfeasible," writes Robert VerBruggen. Extrapolating VerBruggen's point, it seems that a firearms advocate who demands that the government stay out of his gun cabinet -- because such meddling is unproductive, unconstitutional, and punishes law-abiding citizens -- has no business suggesting that it clamp down on violent video games (or films) for the same reasons.

I may not agree with him, personally, on the feasibility or efficacy of gun control legislation, but if it spares video games from an intellectually dishonest attack in the national conversation that's coming, I'm all for it.

VerBruggen's editorial is worth clipping and saving for reference, as it examines nearly all of the major studies that have shaped this debate and points out how the violent behaviour some games seem to inspire could actually be a product of something else. Similarly, the fact killers like Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris, or Anders Behring Breivik, expressed affinity for violent shooters like Doom or Call of Duty may be simply that violent people are attracted to violent games.

It's also worth noting that "violent video games keep violent people occupied - every minute they spend with a controller in their hands is a minute they don't spend hurting others," VerBruggen says. Further, "The people most likely to be violent, young males, are disproportionate consumers of these games. And yet violent-crime rates in this demographic have fallen."

The editorial does point out that Sen. Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia, a Democrat, has called for regulation of violent video games. And the conservative self-interest may be that, in aligning video games and other protected speech with guns, the public at large will back off on a desire to tighten controls on the latter. The National Review is plainly a partisan publication, as it has every right to be.

But even if The National Review disagrees that gun control will solve the problem of gun violence, it's good to see someone there finds it absurd that game control would do anything more meaningful.

The Folly of Blaming Games [The National Review]


    And just when you thought American culture can't get any more pathetic with it's mass scale propaganda of lies & deceit. Really is 'The Boy Who Cried Wolf' scenario, and if you buy into this diatribe, you are not as smart as you think you are. Just another faceless robot, who says what he heard. Hearsay. Monkey-See-Monkey-Do.

    There's nothing wrong with guns - unless they're in a video game or a movie!

    "...the First Amendment prevents laws against the sale of violent games to minors."
    Well, you learn something new every day. I always wondered why America doesn't legally restrict games like we do...

      While the First Amendment does do that, groups like the ESRB and MPAA have agreements with retailers and producers that pretty much sidestep the government entirely while still allowing for censorship and restriction of sales.

      I'd much prefer that the government has some level of involvement in this sort of thing because at least the government is accountable to voters. Who is the ESRB and MPAA accountable to?

      America is weird.

        I know; I had just wondered why there were no legal restrictions, rather than leaving it up to (ultimately) the discretion of the retailer. Sure, the retailer is accountable to the agreements made with the ESRB and MPAA, and the cashier is accountable to the retailer, but there are no penalties should the cashier decide to ignore those agreements, beyond potential dismissal for going against store policy.

        And this is assuming that every retailer has such an agreement - is there any obligation for such an agreement to exist? If not, the classification system looks pretty much entirely optional, and that is what makes me wonder about it.

        America is indeed weird.

    I think everyone is just over analysing this, truth be told I think violent/unstable people are just drawn to violent games and removing their access to it won't change a thing they are still going to be violent/unstable.

    Just explore the option of gun control America, the right to bare arms liberty was made more than 200 years ago in a very hostile and villainous time and the societal structure has changed significantly since than.

      The problem is Americans confuse their right to bear arms with a right to bear an arsenal. When I lived there I knew a guy who legally owned a semi automatic rifle with a grenade launcher attachment. Another guy I knew owned a jeep with a 30 caliber turret. These people owned dozens of guns each.

      Why does a person need an arsenal?

    NRA: Real guns are safe, pretend Guns are Dangerous... Yep that makes perfect sense.

    f it's not from "The Huffington Post" it didn't happen *cough*

      Yeah... the HP has no more credibility than Fox News. It's the exact same thing, just on the left side instead of the right.

        Truth/Reality has a liberal bias.

        Last edited 21/12/12 6:24 pm

    “Video-game restrictions are much like gun laws: More often than not, they’re unlikely to help, unconstitutional, or unfeasible,”

    There are no words...

      I got as far as seeing the conservative was from the National Review - the same rag which published this disgusting nonsense - - and stopped expecting anything of serious merit. As you point out, I was right to do so.

    That's what's wrong with the world Dumb people have the power to make decisions that affect everyone.

    But honestly they should think for a moment, out of the 100,000,000 or so gamers in the world. A handful have been involved in shootings and only in the US (disregard the fact that the US has more gun retailers then McDonalds stores). The ratio isn't that terrible, now I wonder how many of them have read a violent book or seen a violent film. I think that the US government is trying to find a scapegoat to save their precious 2nd Amendment. The real question is not what cause this kid to be psychotic (obviously it wasn't bad parenting or mental issues), but how a 16 year old in his state could freely purchase these weapons.

    But while beaurocrats get their pockets lined by gun companies this will remain an issue regardless of whether games get banned/censored.

      The 16 year old kid did not freely purchase these weapons. He stole them. From his mother. That he then shot.

        My mistake, but that goes back to the bad parenting argument. Whether he stole them or not she shouldn't have left guns around a child that had been assigned psychiatric help at school.

        Your only labelling that theft because its convenient to do so. While he didn't buy them, the lack of legislation regarding who can buy these guns and how they should be stored meant he had easy access.

          I'm not arguing that he didn't have easy access. Just that he was not sold the weapons.

          The gun culture in America disgusts me. The fact that people feel the need to have these sorts of weapons to defend themselves makes America seem like a completely uninviting place. After the shootings, people feared that the weapons used (AR15?) would be banned, so they are now sold out across the country.

          This sort of knee jerk reaction and the idea that the solution to a guns problem is more guns is not the sign of a healthy society.

      What's so ridiculous is that the 2nd Amendment didn't actually cover personal firearm ownership until it came up in 2008, some two-and-a-bit centuries after it was introduced. The wording hasn't changed since, but somehow it now covers personal ownership. It was intended to give the people a means of protecting their shores from invasion (America had no standing army then), and as a means to overthrow the government should it become corrupt or tyrannical. It has not changed.
      I think Americans see the constitution as a piece of art - you can take any meaning you want from it, regardless of the original intent, or literal interpretation.

    Where do they get off?

    Strange, we don't have people running through schools with assault weapons here in Australia.
    What's the difference.... Let's see...

    Well, we have 'violent' video games, so that can't be it....
    Oh yeah, we can't just walk into a gun shop and buy a small arsenal.

    It just perplexes me that people can oppose tighter gun restrictions in the US, if you can't 'defend yourself' with a pistol or bolt action rifle then don't bother, you probably shouldn't be wielding a firearm.

    I'm not being cold or heartless to the victims of school shootings in the US, but their deaths will all be in vain if something doesn't change.

    And to those who will rattle on about the bill of rights, it is a constitution that was penned 223 years ago, change it.
    It was created to suit the way things were at the time, if you can't move forward when times have changed then your country will go nowhere.

    I'm not saying Australia is perfect, but we had the common sense to change our gun laws after the Port Arthur massacre in 1996.

    Last edited 21/12/12 2:47 pm

      I agree with you, it's not annoying me that they blame games, it's annoying that other people will have to pay in the future because of ignorance

      See? We're already reaping the benefits of them censoring Left 4 Dead 2, Fallout 3 and all of those GTA's!

      Or something.

        but fallout 3 wasnt censored because of its was because med-x was called morphine

    Here's the proposal on gun restrictions I would propose if I were in Congress

    1. Total Ban on rapid fire weapons being sold to the public
    A legislation that has already proved successful in Australia when it was introduced in 1996 and hasn't been a mass shooting since, When it comes to family protection these things are just plain overkill compared to a handgun. Anyone who owns a fully automatic weapon must either surrender the weapon for cash or have it decommissioned.

    2. Mandatory Licensing for gun owners with at least one attendance at a certified shooting range a year in order to maintain license.

    3. Mandatory sealing and storage for guns not being used
    The mother had her weapons out in the open easy for her son to take, you could say the same for it a burglar breaks into your house and steals your gun, What I propose is any guns not being used or carried must be locked away in a safe or bulletproof glass case, both must be locked with combination. Gun collectors who want to keep their weapons on displayed must be decommissioned, they may also opt to reverse that decision if they desire to use it.

    I get that it would be impossible to ban guns completely, thats far too unrealistic, so we gotta find a middle ground it between banning and allowing civilized people to carry guns.

      If there's one thing the conservative side of politics hates more than restricting guns it's spending government money, so I can't see them getting behind a buy-back like we had here. Especially when you consider how much it'd cost, given the astronomical number of guns over there compared to what we had here at the time of Port Arthur.

    I know most NRA members probably aren't subscribers to the Washington Post, but their article addressing this very question suggests that if there were a connection, it would be that the opposite is true. If you remove the US, firearm-related deaths drop as the number of game sales goes up (if you leave the US in, the trend is the same, but less dramatic):

    EDIT: A lot of the commentators on the article suggest the analysis is flawed, because it doesn't take into account that the levels of gun-ownership are much lower in other countries, too. Here's hoping the NRA score an own goal by bringing that up.

    Last edited 21/12/12 3:13 pm

    Guns don't kill people, bullets do. Just legislate to make a every bullet cost $1000.

      That's hardly fair on the people that have a genuine reason to have a gun, and may need to use it on a regular basis.
      There is nothing wrong with somebody getting a permit to use a .223 bolt action rifle for example, but nobody ever needs a 5.56mm assault rifle.

        Just out of interest, what would be a genuine reason? I can see an argument for farmers who may need to kill distressed livestock, or cull feral animals but that's about it. And in those cases, a simple register of each bullet used would suffice.

          It's much harder to register every bullet than it is to register every firearm.
          I don't think there are many genuine reasons either, farmers, sporting shooters that's about it really.
          There needs to be a limit on the calibre as well, no use putting in regulations if somebody can still legally go out and buy a Barrett M90.

          I probably didn't word that very well, distracted atm lol.

    I wonder how many kids would have been killed if Adam had a controller in his hand that day instead of a gun.

    Guns are so hilariously rooted in american culture, you'd be more successful stopping the sun from rising than taking americans away from their guns. They love using the "guns don't kill people, people kill people" argument over there. It makes sense on some levels but is just plain stupid on many others. I guess it's like them and their imperial measurements system. They love it so much, there's no point in getting them to change their minds, even when it causes issues.

    The flaw in implenting any sort of new gun restrictions is that there are already hundreds of millions of all sorts of firearms already floating around in private hands. From simple bolt action rifles, to rocket launchers & assault rifles. It does make perfect sense to implement tighter laws, but how do you deal with all the firearms already out there? Crims, gun nuts etc. arent going to just give up their firearms due to new laws.

    Plus, think of the blackmarket.

    I have no idea how America is going to deal with the issue. Sadly, even if the government did manage to pass new laws in spite of their constitution, there are still going to be endless amounts of deadly weapons for the taking. In Australia we only have 22 million people and nowhere near the amount of firearms sitting in peoples homes. I also doubt there are RPGs and assault rifles sitting in the homes of the people that do have guns anyway.

    Its a very complicated situation. I dont think anything short of the military busting into every house in America is going to solve their gun problem.

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