Kentucky Governor Blames Violent Video Games For Shootings

During an interview yesterday on a talk radio program, Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin said violent video games are partly responsible for mass shootings such as this week's in Parkland, Florida which killed 17 people and wounded 14 more.

Photo by Scott Olson via Getty Images

"Guns are not the problem; we have a cultural problem in America," Bevin said on The Leland Conway Show Thursday morning local time, as noted by Ars Technca. The governor went on to cite other factors he believed to be responsible for the dramatic increase in mass shootings, including mental illness and side-effects of prescribed medications. He also pointed to American society having lost its "moral compass" before arriving at violent video games and the "culture of death" he believes they help celebrate.

"There are video games that, yes, are listed for mature audiences, but kids play them and everybody knows it, and there's nothing to prevent the child from playing them," he said. "They celebrate the slaughtering of people. There are games that literally replicate and give people the ability to score points for doing the very same thing that these students are doing inside of schools, where you get extra points for finishing someone off who's lying there begging for their life."

These are quote-unquote video games, and they're forced down our throats under the guise of protected speech. It's garbage. It's the same as pornography. They have desensitised people to the value of human life, to the dignity of women, to the dignity of human decency.

Conway, the host, followed up by asking if the governor was calling for a ban on violent video games or just urging parents to pay more attention. "I think we need to start by having an honest question about what value any of these things have," Bevin said.

Why do we need a video game, for example, that encourages people to kill people? Whether it's lyrics, whether it's TV shows, whether it's movies, I'm asking the producers of these products, these video games and these movies, ask yourselves what redemptive value, other than shock value, other than the hope you'll make a couple of bucks off it. At what price? At what price?

His rationale for blaming violent video games and other media was that guns haven't changed while our culture has. "The gun is not the problem," Bevin said at the beginning of his interview. "When we were young… people after Christmas would bring their guns to school and show it off to their friends." He mentioned shotguns and .22 Long Rifles specifically, both of which are much different than the AR-15-style rifle Nikolas Cruz used to massacre students.

The governor also said the number of guns in the US hasn't changed, but as a 2012 study by the US Congressional Research Service found, there are roughly twice as many guns per capita in the United States now as there were in 1968, the year after Bevin was born. The governor's office did not immediately respond to a request for comment by Kotaku.

Bevin is no stranger to saying controversial things in the wake of mass shooting tragedies. After last October's shooting in Las Vegas, the most deadly in recent history, the governor tweeted "To all those political opportunists who are seizing on the tragedy in Las Vegas to call for more gun regs... You can't regulate evil…"

Incidentally, disbarred Florida attorney Jack Thompson, a long-time opponent of violent video games, recently sent the governor a letter in the wake of Kentucky's own school shooting case last month. Thompson was eager to provide his services in helping to investigate how video games were involved in that violent tragedy, something he had tried to do after the Heath High School shooting from 1997. Representing the parents of three victims, he filed a $US130 million ($164 million) lawsuit against companies ranging from Time Warner to Nintendo. The case was eventually dismissed in 2002.


Comments

    "There are video games that, yes, are listed for mature audiences, but kids play them and everybody knows it, and there's nothing to prevent the child from playing them"

    I mean, you have laws that say they can't buy them much like alcohol laws... anything else you add to that is just incompetence and blaming the wrong things. children can't buy them, parents can. children aren't supposed to be able to buy beer but, according to this logic it's the beers fault children got their hands on it.

      Actually in this case the argument has some firmer ground. The ESRB isn't government regulated nor does it have laws associated with enforcement of rules like we do with the PG, M and R ratings.

      Not saying he has a super solid argument, as ultimately it is still a case of 'Here are the guidelines, oh, people are ignoring them, lets blame the object that the guidelines apply to' but it's worth noting there is a difference

        Never mind the dozens of studies that have conclusively disproven the rhetoric he's spouting.

    Cause it is. Nothing to do with the easy access to military grade assault rifles and limitless amounts of ammo in the USA

    "Guns are not the problem; we have a cultural problem in America"

    Gun culture?

      I think it's more to do with the guns (for want of a better expression) are in the DNA of American culture.

      Limiting the scope (otherwise this post will be longer than Hawkings' thesis!) when the first pilgrims arrived on what would be America, the gun was eventually the "equaliser" and a necessity for protection and getting food.

      Unfortunately, that was centuries ago yet some still hold on to the believe that a gun should be as common place now as it was then.

      And I think we can thank the NRA (is that the right one?) for fuelling the excuses in what can only be described as desperate acts to defend what is now obsolete.

        I mean you know the NRA is idiotic when they cheered on trump removing the legislation that stopped the mentally ill from being able to purchase guns.

        Anyone who supports the NRA is mentally ill.

          I mean you know the NRA is idiotic when they cheered on trump removing the legislation that stopped the mentally ill from being able to purchase guns.

          Oh christ. How did I miss that?

          Oh wait, there is so much nonsense going on trying to keep an accurate record in my head will render me a vegetable.

        Except weirdly other countries like ours have a pioneer background as well and there was also the romantic view of the bush ranger, etc yet we never adopted the gun culture they did.

          Except we did... guns were fairly common in australia..

          Until Howard actually did one if the few things i did not expect of a conservative goverment and instigate a radical gun control law here in aus after Port Arthur. Probably one of the few things i give the Liberal goverment proper credit for

            Yeah they were common but we never really had the same gun culture as such. It's like the American's have seen too many dirty Harry movies and think they will be some big action hero if it came down to it.

            He may be a complete asshat but I respect him for doing that after Port Arthur

    He is right about it being a culture problem. I agree with alot of what he says.
    American culture being that they believe they are better than everybody else and have the right to police the world gets ingrained in them.
    The culture that loves to preach about there right to bear arms.
    And how do they solve there problems, kill the shit out of it.
    The whole gun control debate is ridiculous as well, guns are not the issue even if they banned the guns or had more control people would resort to "2016 niece attack" style killing. And cars/truck are a hell of alot easier to get sold of than guns.
    If someone wants to kill a bunch of people they will do it.

      Invariably this will start the gun control back and forth but (yes I know, and I agree with the culture argument)

      I agree that the control argument is stupid but it is for different reasons. The idea that someone will find a way to kill a bunch of people is true sure, but a truck's primary purpose isn't to run people over or to be used as a weapon whereas a gun exists only to kill things.

      True enough, trucks might be responsible for a number of deaths but we have tests, licenses and so on before we put people behind the wheel of one, and then we have rules in place for their use on the roads. If you want to legally get behind the wheel of a truck, you have to put in the work, if you want to legally own a gun in America, all you need is a pulse and to not currently be incarcerated

        I agree with you about a guns purpose being to kill, and a trucks not being to kill.
        Guns are also a whole lot more fear inducing than a truck, that may be why people do go on mass shottings gives more of a sense of power/control.

        If there was more control and limits on guns though, people start using trucks or something else to go on there mass killings it would be worse in a way.

        I do agree though with the argument that people don't need assault rifles, and to quote Jim Jeffery's
        "the only reason to have those kind of guns... Fuck of I like guns"
        If you need a AR15 to protect your family or home you've made the worse enemy's on the planet.

          I don't think they would. This kid was obsessed with guns for a reason. Trucks don't have that slick killing machine appeal. They don't fit easily in your backpack and they don't work efficiently. They don't give the holder a sense of ultimate power. When you drive a truck you don't get the high of knowing nobody can fuck with you. I don't think these types of high school mass shootings really work without that.

      You forgot the pledge of allegiance. Not many countries still have kindergarten kids pledge themselves to supreme nationalism. Do that for thirteen years and no wonder you think your country is infallible and perfect compared to all others. From day dot, they are taught to never question the supreme authority of the US.

      I get the argument that people will just find other methods of doing the same thing, but what a lot of people seem to ignore is that plenty of these killings are targeted, ie student wants to kill other students at his school not just random people. If he didn't have access to a gun, then sure he might have tried to find another way, but can you imagine that kid trying to use a truck? Ironically it would be harder for him to get access to a truck and operate the thing than it is for him to get a gun... Then - assuming he gets that far - he goes to school in his truck and what? rams a building potentially killing himself in the hope that he kills students?

      Even if you don't outright ban guns, implementing significant control over the procurement/ownership and storage of said weapons is a must, even if it only serves to stop school shootings; then its a win for America and humanity in general.

        He might wait until school is out and plow through the students while they are leaving the entrances, or a school spirit parade, maybe a sporting event.

        School attacks might not happen as much if there were stricter access to guns, but I believe that if someone is that deranged enough to go on a mass shooting they are deranged enough to find another way if they can't get a gun.

        There are other countries that have similar or less strict gun laws that don't have the same problems, it's about American culture

        Don't get me wrong as I've said I believe that gun culture/american culture is the issue and a gun is worse than a truck for its ability to induce fear and power in the hands of a mass shooter. Guns are easier to operate than a truck and probably easier to get a hold of.

        The Law Vegas attack for instance, what do you think would have happened if he couldn't buy any guns, would he of given up?
        I don't think so I believe he would have gone out hired a removal truck and still killed people, for a semi compitent driver a truck isn't hard to drive in a straight line.

    I think they should mail out M16 automatic rifles to every american of all ages, because if everyone has a gun then there would be no crimes! /sarcasm

    Do you expect to re-educate/indoctrinate 300million people so they only use guns responsibly? it will never happen, because its impractical. Some problems can't be fixed, but the damage caused by said problems can certainly be mitigated! (such as stricter gun licenses and control)

    Last edited 17/02/18 9:46 am

      The thing about gun control in America is the debate is already part of the industry marketing and contributes a massive chunk of the profits overall.
      They like to talk about it, but almost never do anything about it for a reason.

      Sound stupid, but there is a reason why gun prices are raised following a shooting or coverage of politicians talking about gun control measures to capitalise on the fear and panic of crime and the implication folks will lose their guns.

      When legislation is actually pursued, the gun lobbyists always get to decide on amendments to ensure loop holes and vague definitions anyway, such as defining assault rifles by arbitrary parts that can be purchased legally on their own.

    Which game gives you bonus points for finishing off people begging for mercy?

    And why do most rampages happen in America, surely other countries have access to violent videogames.

      I think he's referring to the old Mortal Kombat games, with the fatalities and such.

      kingdom come deliverance, well a bit more xp at least.

        Yeah but you only shoot the innocents with a bow and arrow, not an assault crossbow christ-f#$ker 2000.

        Also bandits dont deserve mercy when they group up on me 4 to 1 and i still manage to mace them

          Lol yeah, the first guy mercy killed I thought he was dead already until I tried to loot him, which is ironic since I was there looting people as well.

    What a numpty. Practically everywhere else in the world has guns, action films and video games but yet only the USA has more gun massacres annually than there are days in the year.

    Young people: Why do you have to hate what you don't understand?
    Govenor: I don't hate you, Young People.
    Young People: I meant video games.
    Govenor: Oh. Oh, yeah, I hate video games. Yes.

    “Guns are not the problem; we have a cultural problem in America," Bevin said.

    Yes. Yes they are says the rest of the world and sane US citizens. Gun really are the problem.

    I always get a kick out of how myopic and self-centred some Americans are. “Violent video games” are the problem - Oh? Well.... care to explain why these mass school shootings are so rare outside of the US, when the rest of the world ALSO has those SAME violent video games? I don’t see many school shootings in the UK, Japan or Australia - and we play the exact same games Americans do!

    Of course, the Governor of Kentucy won’t realise that. Like quite a few Americans, “The world DOESN’T EXIST outside the exalted shores of St. America!”

    I'm asking the producers of these products, these video games and these movies, ask yourselves what redemptive value
    What redemptive value do guns have?

    Meanwhile, in the real world, we wait for the next group of children to be shot and killed at a place where they should be safe and learning.

    Children.

    Get over yourself America and start changing, otherwise start preparing a lot more coffins for kids.

      Mate that boat has long since sailed.... Sandy Hook gets a mass shooting at an elementary school where kids got killed and NOTHING has happened..

      If the mass wanton death of children in a supposedly safe first world country still doesnt get anyone to act or rethink their views then nothing will

        Yep and it's the saddest thing out of all of it.

        Perhaps letting the gun nuts know that they're missing out on a generation of potential new gun owners might get them to shift their focus...

    These are quote-unquote video games, and they're forced down our throats under the guise of protected speech

    So the second amendment is sacred, but fuck the first amendment? OK, sure.

    So if "guns don't kill people, people kill people" holds true, then "video games don't kill people, gamers kill people" also must apply. In which case if you're suggesting there is a need for restrictions on video games then you are also implicitly accepting the need for restrictions on guns. But I guess the video game lobby doesn't pay as much in bribes - sorry, "campaign contributions" - as the gun lobby.

      If you get a chance, jump onto Facebook and find some stories about this from American sources

      The general public of America are so against gun control its not funny. Some comments I read stated they actively donated money to the NRA after this shooting

      And then they start with the whole "Cars kill more people than guns, we dont ban them" irony which is really funny to read.... (they seem to be too dumb or blind to understand there are rules and restrictions for owning and driving a car that dont exist for guns)

        There's also the simple fact that cars have a legitimate use apart from killing people. If you use it the way it is intended to be used, nobody gets hurt. You use a automatic / semi-automatic rifle or handgun the way it is supposed to be used, people get killed.

      75% of Americans want stricter gun control, something like 85% want a ban on military weapons.

      But the NRA is a colossal political force all out of proportion to the size of its membership because its members can be relied on to call politicians on the phone day-in and day-out and generally be very politically active. Combine that with craven politicians and sewer slime with expensive haircuts like Bevin and you have the current situation in the US where actually doing something about massacres is impossible.

    That explains why we have so many mass killings in Australia!!! All those damn kids and the computering game thingies!

    That's fine... I blame inept politicians for shootings, so let's call it even :)

    and there's nothing to prevent the child from playing themIn other news, America has now found itself completely devoid of parents and a ratings system. I'm not saying that there's no possible way a child would be subversive enough to be able to play violent games somehow, just that there are things that can stop them that don't.

    A friend and I had a discussion about which would come first, the video games connections or gun control discussions. I don't think I've heard anything yet about gun control...

    The reality is that video games have killed nobody. That is nobody has died as a direct result of playing a game as intended using the intructions on the box.

    Guns however in the hands of almost any human have the (as the instructions say on the box) ability to kill anyone in the immediate area of the gun.

    The solution: stop putting guns( and ammo) within reach of people who are most at risk of these atrocities and stop trying to shift the narrative away from the actual problem i.e Guns in the hands of deranged people!

    I've said it before, I'll say it again: Americans are collectively the dumbest bunch of fuckheads on this planet.

    It's at the point my sympathy for them has absolutely run dry. Anyone who continues to live in that rabid, mentally deranged shithole of a country had absolutely NO right to complain when some loony blows their head off. You might as well live in a hornet's nest. If you don't want to die pointlessly, move to a less-retarded country.

    Over the years I have become convinced that America is incapable of solving this problem. The gun enthusiasts are brainwashed by baffling arguments and the leaders are paralysed.

    Was Stephen Paddock big on violent video games? Thats news to me...

    Many legit think they need more guns out there in the hands of the "good guys" to stop the "bad guys" with guns. Taking away guns with gun control will only enable the "bad guys" from killing people unopposed!

    With all these shootings that have happened this year, how many were stopped by these mysterious "good guys" with guns?

    I'll wait..

      I can't find it because all the recent events come up in Google first. But there was a shooting in the 70/80's where an armed civilian killed the shooter but then other armed civilians turned up though he was the shooter and attacked him.

    Replace video games with guns and he actually makes some valid statements:

    "There are [guns] that, yes, are listed for mature audiences, but kids play them and everybody knows it, and there's nothing to prevent the child from playing them," he said. "They celebrate the slaughtering of people."

    These are quote-unquote [guns], and they're forced down our throats under the guise of protected speech. It's garbage. It's the same as pornography. They have desensitised people to the value of human life, to the dignity of women, to the dignity of human decency.
    Conway, the host, followed up by asking if the governor was calling for a ban on violent [guns] or just urging parents to pay more attention. "I think we need to start by having an honest question about what value any of these things have," Bevin said.

    Why do we need a [gun] for example, that encourages people to kill people? Whether it's lyrics, whether it's TV shows, whether it's movies, I'm asking the producers of these products, these [guns] and these movies, ask yourselves what redemptive value, other than shock value, other than the hope you'll make a couple of bucks off it. At what price? At what price?

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