Violent Video Games Are Not To Blame For The Florida School Shooting

The political response to school shootings is the same every time, as governors try to blame everything except for guns. Video games are regularly caught in the crossfire, and I’m left asking one question: didn’t we settle this nearly a decade ago?

Turns out that even though we did, that has not stopped Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin from speaking out about violent video games and their apparent effect on young people - saying that 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz massacred 17 people at his former school with an AR-15 assault rifle on Valentine’s Day because of a “culture of death that is being celebrated” by video games.

"There are video games that, yes, are listed for mature audiences, but kids play them and everybody knows it, and there's nothing to prevent the child from playing them.

"They celebrate the slaughtering of people. There are games that literally replicate and give people the ability to score points for doing the very same thing that these students are doing inside of schools, where you get extra points for finishing someone off who's lying there begging for their life.”

And while violent video games are easy to blame - a simple connection for people to make - it’s bizarre to see this dialogue return when it’s quite clearly been debunked multiple times.

Where do I even begin? One study from the Hannover Medical school in Germany showed violent video games have zero long-term effects on a person’s empathy. Another more recent study from the University of York confirmed this. Then we have studies that support this governor’s hypothesis, which have been regularly debunked for purely connecting two data points. 

As any researcher will tell you, correlation does not imply causation, but yet many of these so-called psychological studies rely on the points lining up on a graph.

Example, a site called Spurious correlations found links between US spending on science, space and technology, and the national suicide rate. That doesn’t mean one affects the other, and video games paired with physical violence fall into this pool of moot connections.

Jack Thompson

But wait, there’s more… Remember Jack Thompson? The Florida lawyer and relentless opponent to violent video games? Well, there’s a reason he was permanently disbarred... For being quite the showboat, cherry-picking parts of wider studies that support his argument (from studies which concluded the opposite of the point he tried to make).

Also, let’s not forget a crucially damning point to Matt’s accusation, as research done by the US Secret Service shows that less than 20% of school shooters played violent video games - rendering any kind of correlation obsolete.

Simply put, the facts are obvious. After years of research, there are no ways of twisting the conclusion that video games do not make players violent in real-life. For Gov. Matt Bevin to blame video games for the Florida school shooting is both woefully misguided.

It’s another tactic used in pettifogging America’s second amendment debate - the same way as how each shooting requires a serious discussion about mental health rather than common sense gun control.

I mean the second amendment was written at a time of Revolutionary-era muskets - firing single rounds and requiring a slow reload process. With many school shootings using a modern-day AR-15, capable of firing 45 rounds per minute, the logic of the NRA’s absolutist stance on the right to bear arms is just downright dangerous.

For God’s sake, stop avoiding the obvious fix and think about what is best for the people, rather than what will keep your political benefactors and sources of campaigning cash happy.