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The Daily Tar Heel

Video games have no relevance to mass shootings

Ramishah Maruf

High schools, nightclubs and now, video game tournaments. 

In the past couple of years, my home, Florida (affectionately called the ‘Gunshine State’), has become plagued by mass shootings. The course of events appearing from the right-wing politicians controlling our legislature has more or less been the same: thoughts and prayers, a lackluster call for action and then, nothing. 

But the rhetoric coming from the Jacksonville Landing shooting on Sunday was a bit different. There’s been a shift in conversation, with many more suggesting it’s video games causing these mass shootings. This rhetoric has, for some reason, been spread for years. Trump even said it in February after the Parkland, Fla. school shooting.

"I’m hearing more and more people seeing the level of violence in video games is really shaping young people’s thoughts,” Trump said to Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi. 

It’s time to stop using video games as a deflection from conversations about responsible gun control. Video games shouldn’t even be in the conversation because it distracts us from the hard truth: easy access to guns is the main reason for mass shootings. 

It takes a special train of thought to come to the conclusion that an animated video game is more to blame for shootings than the actual weapon used. Is America really that blinded by their love for the Second Amendment?

The idea that violent video games breed mass shooters is just factually incorrect, but with our President’s tendency to ignore scientific truth, I’m not surprised he still chooses to focus on it. According to an article in Vulture, a study by the American Psychological Association in 2015 found that even though violent games may have an impact aggression, it will not, as politicians imply, make its players buy AR-15s and shoot up public spaces. 

If there was a direct link to video games and mass shootings, our elected officials certainly wouldn’t know. The government still refuses to treat gun violence as a public issue — although the Center for Disease Control, after 20 years, is allowed to research gun violence, the House GOP blocked funding for the research in July. 

Violent video games exist in countries outside the U.S. Clearly, there are other factors that cause the U.S. to have “one of the highest rates of death by firearm in the developed world,” according to World Health Organization data. 

Gun control is easily the most polarized issue in America right now. Whatever your views are, I think we can all agree that Americans deserves to be safe, whether it be in a shopping mall or a school. It’s an issue that’s complex and layered, but if you’re going to debate about it, please bring up points that are relevant to the conversation. 

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