Considering how violent video games have been scapegoated by gun-rights hardliners, this defence seems to come from an unusual source. But a man who sued the District of Columbia — and won — over a handgun ban says lawmakers scapegoat video games because they can't win on the gun debate.
"It seems to me that going after shooter video games is a surrogate for going after real guns and real owners," Richard Heller told the conservative publication Human Events. "For too long the media and the gun grabbers have sold the idea that guns are cause of violence. They keep failing in their attempts to outlaw guns and undermine the right to keep and bear arms, so they are going around it."
Five years ago the US Supreme Court ruled, in District of Columbia vs Heller, that the District's then 33-year ban on possession of handguns was unconstitutional under the Second Amendment.
US Congress has passed no law regulating the sale or the content of violent video games, shooter or otherwise, though there is a bill pending in the Senate that would task the National Academy of Sciences to study video games, in addition to other violent media, to determine if any causal link exists. The proposal was introduced in the wake of the Sandy Hook massacre last December.
Vocal gun advocates have not been so supportive of video games in the past. As his organisation came under scrutiny immediately after Sandy Hook, Wayne LaPierre, the National Rifle Association's executive vice president, excoriated video games as a greater influence on a violent culture than firearms.
Heller, in his comments, seems to say there's no either-or-culprit in the debate: "We should not allow the government to make attempts to reduce the quality of our life to the lowest common denominator because somebody can't behave themselves with a game or toy," he said.