The president of the United States used his bully pulpit earlier today to point a finger at violent video games for recent mass shootings. Gamers are responding with the hashtag #VideogamesAreNotToBlame, which is the number one trending topic on Twitter tonight.
“We must stop the glorification of violence in our society. This includes the gruesome and grisly video games that are now commonplace,” Donald Trump said in a speech addressing the recent mass shootings in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio that has left 32 dead. “It is too easy today for troubled youth to surround themselves with a culture that celebrates violence.”
This is not the first time that Trump has blamed video games as a contributing factor for mass shootings and gun violence. After the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting that left 17 dead, Trump again tried to link violent video games to the shooter’s actions.
Trump, of course, is not alone in pointing the finger at entertainment products instead of the weapons manufacturers who helped fund his 2016 presidential campaign to the tune of more than $30 million. Representative Kevin McCarthy of California, the Republican leader in the House of Representatives and next in line to become Speaker of the House should Republicans regain control after the 2020 elections, told Fox News Sunday:
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 and others. We’ve watched from studies shown before of what it does to individuals. When you look at these photos of how it took place, you can see the actions within video games and others.
Former senator, secretary of state, and Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, meanwhile, defended video games in a tweet on Monday morning, highlighting the divide between the parties over what to do about gun violence in the United States. She said that the issue is guns, not games.
People suffer from mental illness in every other country on earth; people play video games in virtually every other country on earth.— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) August 5, 2019
The difference is the guns.
Indeed, the prevalence of video games in a country has no correlation to gun violence. As Vox points out in a simple chart, the US stands alone in the developed world when it comes to gun deaths.
South Korea and China, for instance, spend more on video games per person than the United States yet barely have any gun deaths at all. People in the United Kingdom, Germany, and other European countries, as well as Canada and Japan, spend a considerable amount of money each year on video games. Gun violence is minimal in these countries – and almost nonexistent in Japan, China, South Korea, and the UK.
In other words, the fearmongering surrounding video games is simply wrong. And not only is it wrong on its face, but it’s also an intentional deflection away from the prevalence of gun ownership in America and the well-documented rise in white supremacist terrorism. The shooter in El Paso is believed to have released a hate-filled anti-immigrant manifesto, saying that “this attack is a response to the Hispanic invasion of Texas.”
As NBC News notes:
Extremist-related murders spiked 35 percent from 2017 to 2018, “making them responsible for more deaths than in any year since 1995,” according to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL). Last year, every one of those extremist-related murders was carried out by a right-wing extremist.
Meanwhile, white supremacist propaganda distribution nearly tripled from 2017 to 2018, according to the ADL, which also documented a rise in racist rallies and demonstrations.
According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, 2018 was also the fourth straight year of hate group growth, culminating in a 30 percent increase overall, “roughly coinciding” with President Donald Trump’s campaign and presidency.