Gun violence is a complicated issue

Gun Violence and Video Games: Why This is Not the Debate We Should Be Having, Policymic.com, December 27, 2012

A confusing if valuable article. The author states a few positions with which I disagree. First, we can have more than one debate at a time about a subject as problematic as gun violence. Second, he constantly refers to blaming someone or something for the killings at Newtown. “An NRA exec blames video games for shootings,” he writes. “A Democratic senator blames the NRA.” Blaming involves looking outward and finding a source in the outer world for ones problems and not looking inward. It’s time for the country to look at itself and see the problem within.

In truth, gun violence in America, like anything in life, is multi-faceted. Guns are central to the problem, and American allow guns including semi-automatics to be readily purchased, unlike most other countries, except ones where civil wars are raging. 

The erosion of treatment for the mentally ill over the last three decades is also central, and the erosion of services needs to be acknowledged and addressed.

The ubiquity of violent video games is certainly a factor but a less central one. Yet these games do play a significant role. Violent video games specifically and violent media more generally have created a culture of violence in America. Witnessing violence and role playing the perpetration of violence for hours on end for many Americans is perceived as entertainment. Once we define violence as enjoyable to watch and act out in fictional settings we as a people grow desensitized to it and even glory it. We learn to ignore its horrible after-effects.

It is also curious to read how gun manufacturers are actually using violent video games as a tool for selling their wares to the public. Also, it is my understanding that both the military and many police forces use simulated violence in a a form like video games to train their recruits. So actual individuals intent on murder will often do likewise. In this scenario, the video games become an accessory to the crime, a mentor for the murderer.