Senator Lamar Alexander (R-KY) wasn’t the only senator to blame video games for gun violence last week. Senator Charles Grassley (R-IA) claimed during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing that “[there] are too many video games that celebrate the mass killing of innocent people — games that despite attempts at industry self-regulation find their way into the hands of children.”
The Hill reported on Grassley’s comments, during which Grassley mentioned Call of Duty: Modern Warfare specifically because Anders Behring Breivik, the Norway mass shooter, cited the game as a training tool. During his statement, Grassley asked, “Where is the artistic value in shooting innocent civilians?” He further stated that he shared Vice President Biden’s disbelief in manufacturer claims that video games do not have an impact on real world violence.
Scientific evidence does not support Grassley’s (or Vice President Biden’s) conclusion. The Washington Post‘s Max Fisher recently looked at the statistics related to gun violence in the countries with the highest rate of violent video game usage and found that the United States was a statistical outlier in a trend that actually shows a slight decrease in gun violence as per capita video game usage increases. Further, Kotaku examined 25 years of video game research, looking at both sides of the argument in an article that ultimately supports the idea that there is a lack of scientific evidence supporting a link between violent video games and gun violence.
Similar false rhetoric was used in the 1950s to attack comic books, leading to decades of self-censorship by the comics industry. Blaming video games for violence does nothing to fix the problem, nor will the current calls for industry or governmental regulation do the same.
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Betsy Gomez is the Web Editor for CBLDF.