Trump blames “gruesome video games” for mass shootings

Politicians believe violent video games are partially responsible for these tragedies.

Photo via Gage Skidmore/CC BY SA 2.0

In the wake of mass shootings in Texas and Ohio that claimed at least 31 lives last weekend, President Donald Trump has accused “gruesome and grisly video games” of glorifying violence.

Trump’s stance echoes talking points made by other Republican politicians over the past few days as the party attempts to deflect debates about gun control.

Texas lieutenant governor Dan Patrick claimed that the video game industry, which is bigger than the music and movie industries combined, teaches “people to kill.”

According to Patrick, the shooter from the El Paso, Texas shooting, who allegedly left a manifesto that referenced Call of Duty, was likely influenced by violence in games and social media.

House minority leader Kevin McCarthy repeated a similar line in an interview on Fox News.

“But the idea of these video games that dehumanize individuals to have a game of shooting individuals and others, I’ve always felt that is a problem for future generations,” McCarthy said.

Former FBI agent Maureen O’Connell, meanwhile, claimed that the shooter probably spent the majority of his days playing games like Fortnite, which dehumanize people by “blowing their heads out.”

But multiple studies published over the years provide evidence that these claims from Republican lawmakers are simply not true.

“Video game consumption is associated with a decline in youth violence rates,” Christopher J. Ferguson, a professor of psychology at Stetson University, said in a study linked by esports lawyer Bryce Blum in a must-read thread on Twitter. “Results suggest that societal consumption of media violence is not predictive of increased societal violence rates.”

Another study completed by researchers from the U.K. interviewed over 1,000 adolescent participants and their guardians to see if there’s a correlation between violent games and aggressive behavior.

“The idea that violent video games drive real-world aggression is a popular one, but it hasn’t tested very well over time,” professor Andrew Przybylski, director of research at the Oxford Internet Institute, said in a press release about the study’s findings. “Despite interest in the topic by parents and policy-makers, the research has not demonstrated that there is cause for concern.”

Including the two tragedies over the weekend, there have now been more than 250 mass shootings in the U.S. so far in 2019.