Gun control versus video game violence
By Brittney MacDonald, Life & Style Editor
The shooting that took place on August 26 in Jacksonville, Florida, has rekindled the arguments of a few familiar debates.
The gunman, David Katz, opened fire on the participants and spectators of an esports competition featuring the video game Madden NFL, published by EA Sports. While a mass shooting is sadly not an unfamiliar event, this one in particular has proved to be quite divisive. Many have called for a reexamination of American gun laws, but some have chosen to latch onto the correlative existence of this act of violence and the presence of video games.
For those familiar with the Columbine High School massacre—an event largely seen as the beginning of the modern mass shooting craze—you will recall that the shooting then sparked debate over violence in video games. It is theorized that this was partly due to the formation of the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) in 1994—the Columbine attack occurred in 1999. The discovery that the Columbine perpetrators played video games allowed for a link to be examined that could possibly justify the ESRB’s continued existence after the notoriety of their political cases from the early to mid-’90s died down. Unfortunately, and despite many studies proving the contrary, this led to a belief that video games as a whole encouraged violent behavior.
So how does this affect the Jacksonville shooting? Many conservative-leaning people and political parties have chosen this tragedy as an example of video games encouraging violent acts—conveniently choosing to ignore the fact that Katz was able to initiate this attack with two handguns he had purchased legally, despite having a readily-available medical record detailing mental health issues. Furthermore, it is the ignorant prerogative of said parties to seemingly ignore the fact that Madden NFL has an “E” rating by the ESRB—a rating only given to the most family-friendly games—meaning it contains little to no violence. However, as many members of the gaming community know, and have had to deal with due to this abhorrent public association, this claim of video games inciting violence has less to do with any sort of causation and more to do with acting as a red herring to distract from the reemergence of the gun control debate.
With this in mind, the online community of gamers has been extremely vocal in retaliating against these claims. They’re choosing instead to attempt to refocus public attention to the outdated gun control laws that many believe need reform—but seem to have gone largely ignored by the American government due to political ties with the National Rifle Association.