Are video games a source of gun violence?


Following the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., much speculation has gathered around why Adam Lanza would commit such a crime. Gun control and violence in entertainment have been two of the biggest issues brought up after the tragedy.

The issue of violence in video games has been one of the biggest points for supporters of gun control. Over the years, this has been an issue for many concerned parents in regard to their children’s safety.

Today, there is the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) to rate video games based on the content in the title.

ESRB was created back in the mid 1990s after the controversy of the popular fighting game “Mortal Kombat” and its brutal use of violence and blood.

This resulted in many scientific studies to find if there was any correlation between violence in video games and aggression in reality. In general, there has been little correlation found.

The most that has been found was small rises in aggression and that the aggression sometimes acts more as a reliever for the person playing the game.

A majority of these studies stemmed from mass shootings such as Sandy Hook, Columbine High School and Virginia Tech University.


Collage of various ESRB ratings

These studies have been used in hope to find an answer as to why these massacres occur.

Following the Sandy Hook shooting, Connecticut state Rep. Debralee Hovey proposed a “sin tax” of 10 percent on rated-M video games with plans to send the proceeds to the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services.

The National Rifle Association (NRA) is one of the biggest advocates for ridding video game violence. Following Sandy Hook, the NRA spoke out against gun control, stating that guns are not the issues and that it is violence in media, movies and video games that need to get under control.

On the other side, the people for gun control say it is not the entertainment that is the issue, but the need for tighter laws on buying guns and more funding for mental health treatment.

There are many factors that play into both sides of the debate, but both stem from concerns of the safety of children and the prevention of future national tragedies.

There is currently no clear answer but certainly a press for action from both sides. The real question is, when will we see any action or change?

It is easy to see the split in ideals between for and against gun control groups. It’s hard to say when there will be an explanation on why these tragedies happen, but until then, there is only speculation.

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