Video Games and School Shootings

Paola Hernandez Olvera, Reporter

After the school shooting in Parkland, Fla., President Donald Trump met with video game executives, members of Congress, conservative media activist Brent Bozell and a mother from the Parents Television Council to discuss video games. At the meeting, President Trump argued that violent video games and movies are a significantly large factor when it comes to the origins of school shootings. However, research has dismissed the claim multiple times for the past two decades since the amount of gun violence has increased.

Following the Columbine shooting in 1999, the blame on video games started to become increasingly common. Still many people, like sophomore Jacob Cortez, argue that video games have nothing to do with school shootings, but if there was any correlation, the ratings on the back of the games are there- to inform parents of the kind of games they are purchasing for their child.

“Video games don’t dictate whether or not a person goes out and commits a crime,” Cortez said. “What you do in video games is fantasy. It’s not real. Some parents don’t really care for the type of games that their child is playing, so they really don’t pay attention to the ratings on the back. If parents don’t want their kids to play a game that was designed for adults, then they shouldn’t buy their kids the game. Simple as that.”

Henry Jenkins, a professor at the University of Southern California, wrote an essay for PBS in 2005, stating that researchers have found that people serving time for violent crimes are typically less involved with media before committing their crimes than the average person. When it comes to video games, the overwhelming majority of kids who play do not commit violent acts.

“Scientists have actually proved that video games have no correlation when it comes to school shootings,” Cortez said. “I get why some would think that video games actually do influence people to commit violent acts since there’s guns in most video games, but video games aren’t the problem. The fact that it’s easier to get a gun than to get your driver’s license is the problem.”

Guns are easier to obtain than many everyday necessities including seeing your doctor, getting a job and donating blood. In the U.S., 45 states allow the open carry of a firearm and many other states support concealed carry, yet bringing a pet into a store is restricted in the majority of states. Despite the excess of evidence pointing towards guns, people are continuing to point towards video games as the cause of school shootings.

“People like to stick the blame on things if they see similarities,” Cortez said. “They see guns in video games, look at their surroundings and jump to the conclusion that games are the problem instead of actually paying attention to the victims, seeing that guns are the cause and actually dealing with the problem at hand. Something has to be done.”