US Senator: Video Games Gave Shooter ‘False Sense Of Courage’

US Senator: Video Games Gave Shooter ‘False Sense Of Courage’

Let the scapegoating continue. Adam Lanza, the person who shot and killed 26 people at Sandy Hook elementary in Connecticut last month, reportedly played Call of Duty, among other games. So for quite a while now, pundits and politicians have been drawing links between his heinous actions and the video games he played.

Most recently we have Senator Chris Murphy, a newly elected Democrat in CT, who spoke yesterday during a press conference to introduce a bill on assault weapons.

“I think there’s a question as to whether he would’ve even driven in his mother’s car in the first place if he didn’t have access to a weapon that he saw in video games that gave him a false sense of courage about what he could do that day,” the senator said.

This is probably a good time to remind the world that there is no scientific evidence linking violent video games and violent behaviour.

Dem Senator: Video games gave Sandy Hook shooter a ‘false sense of courage’ [Washington Examiner]


  • “I think there’s a question as to whether he would’ve even driven in his mother’s car in the first place if he didn’t have access to a weapon that he saw in video games that gave him a false sense of courage about what he could do that day,”

    How about the fact that he saw his mother shooting them for recreation? He could have thought “that thing looks like it could pop a guy’s head pretty well”.

    • Ive fixed his quote for him:

      “I think there’s a question as to whether he would’ve even driven in his mother’s car in the first place if he didn’t have access to both a weapon and a car that he obviously had readily available in his house to him… videogames didn’t have a part to play in this, the fact there was a gun in the house did.”

  • He and his mother would try these guns just for fun. In his mind, guns were not instruments of death but mere toys to pass time.

    The Senator should perhaps focus the efforts on controlling access to these guns and why not ban them altogether? This is the case in Scotland and many countries including Australia too. Blaming that atrocious massacre on videogames is just sidelining the real issue here.

    Also there are many people around the world who play COD and these people are not going around shooting real bullets.

  • yeah funny thing about this debate..there are pro-gun people on both sides of the political system in the USA and some of them are just are stupid as alex jones and the leader of the NRA

  • This is probably a good time to remind the world that there is no scientific evidence linking violent video games and violent behaviour.

    Dude, politicians don’t care about facts. Emotion is their tool of choice.

    Ignorant senator is ignorant.

  • Can’t wait till these ageing politicians are gone. They seriously aren’t in touch with it, instead they’re continue to hold onto their backwards conservative beliefs.

    • Yes, they will totally be replaced by modern, enlightened, forward thinking people of progress.

      At least, my parents told me that’s what they said when they were my age. Come to think of it, my grandparents said it too…

      • The difference is we of course know better! Books weren’t driving people insane, Rock n Roll was not the tool of the Devil, DnD was just people playing w/ pen and paper and Video Games aren’t conclusively connected to violence!

        But u know that new fangled VR thang? Thems driving u crazy i tell you! projecting stuff in your head! BAN THE VR I TELL YOU! THINK OF THE CHILDREN!


        Point being… there’s *always* going to be new media that will be the target of the day for any conservative. New media are always a double edged sword on one side it allows society a new outlet for expression and entertainment at the other side the fact that its new and unknown will always trigger off the “fear of the unknown” on the more conservative side of the equation. It’s been a never ending cycle since time in memoriam. But hey at least it manages to take the spotlight off our media of choice… and we get to troll a different generation as a bonus! xD

  • that false sense of courage… no, i think that came from the gun. it’s not like he brought a DS with him, he brought guns.

  • I thought it came out that HIS BROTHER was the one playing the video games. You know – the brother who DIDN’T shoot up a school.
    OK, maybe they both played. Do you want to ban games from those like the shooter? Why not deny these people access to guns, too? Oh, and… How do you identify them?

  • Again, we need to argue better.

    “This is probably a good time to remind the world that there is no scientific evidence linking violent video games and violent behaviour.”

    This statement and the link therein are inconsistent. Plainly, there is some evidence linking violent videogames and agresssion. You bloody wrote about it, at length, not less than a fortnight ago. I quote: “On one side of the argument are Bushman, Anderson, and several other scientists who say there’s a definitive causal link between games and aggressive behaviour. Violent video games, this camp would argue, make people more aggressive.”

    Like it or not, this is scientific evidence, assuming it is peer reviewed.

    Stop knee jerking. It’s as bad as this Senator.

    • I enjoy how you take the statement and suggest it’s wrong and there are links shown in studies to violent behaviour. Then talk about aggression like it’s the same thing, they are not. Aggression can involve violence, however the studies that found a link between violent games and aggression in child. Did not find an increase in violence only non violent aggressive behaviour. Also there have been no studies that I’m aware of connecting violent video games and any sort of long term affect of violent video games on adults.

      The science to date shows us that violent games are like all other media and stimuli and can have an affect on children. Supporting both the current rating system and perhaps more of a concerted effort to enforce it. Children shouldn’t be playing extremely violent video games that much is clear. Adults have the right to access violent video games, which the supreme court rightly agreed as video games are art/media and a form of free speech.

    • Lets look at the scientific evidence then. The Anderson study was found to have “included many studies that do not relate well to serious aggression, an apparently biased sample of unpublished studies, and a “best practices” analysis that appears unreliable and does not consider the impact of unstandardized aggression measures on the inflation of effect size estimates. They also focused on bivariate correlations rather than better controlled estimates of effects. Despite a number of methodological flaws that all appear likely to inflate effect size estimates, the final estimate of r = .15 is still indicative of only weak effects” (C.J. Ferguson et al, 2010, Anderson’s work was a meta-analytical review of existing studies with a biased and pre-determined outcome that favoured studies that would support his data, regardless of the consistency with known psychological development. On the other hand, an actual study of patients under fMRI has determined there is no actual diminishing of the ability of long-term gamers to differentiate between real world and virtual violence compared to non-gamers of the same age, indicating that their reaction to such would not vary between the two groups ( Additionally, F Staude-Müller performed a long-term study of gamers examining the tendency of aggressive patterns to develop. It was discovered that the tendency of aggressive pattern development was linked not to the actual violence within the games themselves, but the unregulated patterns in which they were allowed to play these games. ( Whilst we must acknowledge that Bushman did indeed establish a link between violent video games and stress and aggression (, this stress has been linked to several other daily activities as well ( Additionally, in the first paragraph of his article, he acknowledges the fact that the increased stress levels are a direct result of the increased risk to the player’s character in violent games and the frustration this can bring about, indicating that he himself recognises that the behaviour patterns are not themselves the result of the violence desensitising the player but rather that of the player getting frustrated. C. Barlett et al have also established that these behaviour patterns are short-term and do not last more than a few minutes after playing the game ceases (

      In conclusion, there is strong evidence that violent games do not have a long-term impact either on the ability of humans to differentiate between reality and the virtual world or on their behaviour patterns. They are correct that the games do promote aggressive tendencies in the players, but only over a short term, with a proven lack of link between the violence of the game and long-term development of aggressive tendencies. The indication of several studies instead indicates that these aggression patterns are a result of growing dependence on the reward drug dopamine, which when released gives humans a feeling of pleasure and relaxation. The lowering of levels of this drug, or a lowering of sensitivity to it caused by compulsive behaviour in certain individuals, can lead to stress, anger, erratic behaviour and violence. This dependence develops as the result of a lack of control over the gaming habit by the parents and the individual themselves, as evidenced by Staude-Müller, and is commonly seen in several other hobbies that have developed into compulsions (gambling, exercising, etc)

  • I am reminded of when “Manhunt” was banned because it was found at a victims house after a murder has taken placed at the same location and somehow it was linked to the murderer.

    • The way it’s portrayed, a True Sense of Courage is reserved for Heroes and people who do good things, a False Sense of Courage is for Villains and people who do bad things.

  • the military in the background of shot … not to get get overly political but didn’t they introduce methods for the military to actual get over the fact they are shooting people?. WW1 and 2 lot a dudes couldn’t pull the trigger. Military i think changed training to get over that and allow the common “grunt” to get over that. correct me if i am wrong just a question

  • It’s just sad that even gamers can’t understand the fact that a casual link between violence and aggression in children doesn’t equate to violence, let alone mass shootings. Also the fact that Mr Jocks can’t even spell aggression. Sad.

    The Western world has become devoid of general intelligence, knowledge, comprehension skills and objectivity. Instead, everyone simply uses misleading, emotive garbage to push their agenda.

    Rather than sitting down and having a long, hard think about actual solutions, these yank pollies want quick fixes and a chance to piggyback the incident just to further their careers. America thinks it’s the most progressive place in the world, but socially and politically they’re completely stagnant.
    They’re going nowhere fast and it’ll stay that way until they pull their heads out of their own asses and get real.

  • Right, because it takes courage to plan to roll up to a school full of kids and shoot them, amirite?

    When politicians around the world stop being full of shit, maybe the world can change for the better, maybe we can look at things as they are, and not as someone thinks they are.

    But nobody dares put the question out there, if there were less guns overall, would that equate to less deaths? I daresay it would, those same idiot politicians would call up the China incident, same day, same style, only none of the kids stabbed (afaik) died, because it just takes that much more effort and determination, and some skill with a knife, to kill multiple people.

    It may sound callous, but if we’re looking purely at death prevention, then surely guns have to go. Can’t stop people from buying knives, but you’ll never have deaths on the same scale as a gun rampage.

  • Supposed evidence between video games and violence aside, I don’t even understand how courage real or otherwise has any relation to Adam Lanza whatsoever. He drove to an Elementary School where it’s not as if any of the kids could even put up a fight and then killed himself. We generally call someone like that a coward.

  • The fact of that matter is that regardless of what this Senator says or claims it is the science that will inform the discussion. However we are all aware that science has become an increasingly controversial topic in the United States.

    The sitting members of the US government (in particular those residing in Congress) wish to be seen doing something active about the issue of gun violence in the United States. Any sitting member of Congress will also know that their jobs are also going to be on the line in a short while. They do not wish to endanger their seats by toying with the 2nd Amendment of the US Constitution as this is an activity fraught with risk. But blaming the issue on violent media and games presents an excellent opportunity to adopt the appearance that the issue is not only being actively engaged, but dealt with.

    The reality is that violent media is a useful scapegoat because politicians can adopt the appearance of being tough and doing something without risking their electorate on partisan issues. However, the simple fact remains that when we examine the fact that the same violent games are available I almost every other modern western democratic nation (and in some cases to an even greater extent than the US) the same level of violent crime is not found anywhere else in the world. In fact the statistics indicate that as violent game availability has increased, violent crime has decreased. Now that is simply a correlation not a causation. But the fact of the matter is that until proper scientific research enters the debate, politicians will continue to use whatever tools make them look great whilst they continue to do nothing about the heart of the real issue.

  • Er, doesn’t the article linked as “no scientific evidence” in fact begin with scientific evidence that violent videogames prime people to act aggressively following play? Both as a psychological response to hypothetical stimuli, and also a physical act of inflicting harm on an opponent?
    To add my two cents. I’ve grown up on video games. All kinds, and I never questioned what I was playing because I played everything. From Skateboarding on the 2600, through Impossible Mission on the C64, Chrono Trigger and on to recently the Call Of Duties. I don’t know what’s really changed ostensibly from shooting ghosts in Quake to the men in COD. But I had a strong enough reaction to the games to be utterly turned off first person shooters now. I won’t say I didn’t enjoy them. I did. But I felt like I was feeding something in myself that was just not healthy in playing them. To put it as simply as I can I felt like a monster amongst monsters, and thats just not the world I live in, or want to live in.

  • they point there finger at everything but the problem, this shit doesn’t happen in other countries often due to the fact other countries don’t let there citizens own or carry semi or full auto AR’s around without military training, they need to pull there heads out of there ass and re write the 2nd Amendment so it allows people only hold pistols and hunting rifles.

  • There is a very simple solution to the problem. All that needs to be done is a register needs to be setup of people who own guys and cross check that with the register of people who own computer/consoles games. Then anyone who has a gun is banned from owning games. Simple!

    Gun owners get to keep there guns and mass shootings can then no longer be blamed on computer games.

  • Games like Call of Duty aren’t the cause or the trigger for events like this if anything it would delay someone that nuts from doing something as atrocious as he did because someone who does something like that is either born without everything up there or there would be a list of things that happened to him to make him lose his mind but playing videogames should be at the bottom of this list

    I mean where does it stop if videogames encourage violent behaviour and they erase violent videogames and events like this keep happening what are they going to do next sensor every other type of media it’s ridiculous.

    Guns are the problem I live in Australia I’m 23 and I’ve heard of maybe one shooting in my state since I can remember and I wouldn’t even know where to start looking for a place to buy a gun because there are barely any gun stores here. People kill people but guns make it a hell of a lot easier.

  • “I think there’s a question as to whether he would’ve even driven in his mother’s car in the first place if he didn’t have access to a weapon that he saw in video games that gave him a false sense of courage about what he could do that day,” the senator said.

    This sentence is rather ambiguous. The reference to courage could be applied to either the word “weapon” or “video games”. Is this a case of a supposed attack on video games being inferred rather than intended?

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