Newtown shooting reignites violent games debate

Lieberman, Axelrod and others raise questions about violent entertainment in wake of mass shootings

In the wake of Friday's Newtown, Connecticut elementary school shooting, the big question for politicians, pundits, and the public is what can be done to prevent tragedies like this from happening again. The loudest, most frequent calls for change have come on the topics of gun control and mental health, but the influence of violent video games has also been brought into the conversation.

One of the longest-standing critics of media violence, Connecticut Sen. Joseph Lieberman, discussed the shooting in an appearance on The Wall Street Journal's The Markets Hub. After access to guns and proper mental health care, Lieberman brought up violent games as a third issue in need of addressing.

"We've got to again start the conversation about violence in the entertainment culture," Lieberman said. "Obviously not everybody who plays a violent video game becomes a killer, but the social science is pretty clear here. Particularly for people who are vulnerable because they do have mental problems, the violence in our entertainment culture stimulates them to act out."

Time political columnist Joe Klein raised his own concerns with violent entertainment in an appearance on ABC's This Week.

"We not only have a Second Amendment in this country, we also have a First Amendment that protects Sylvester Stallone's right to fire thousands of bullets in any given movie," Klein said. "What we need to do in this society is treat people who create violent movies and violent video games with the same degree of respect we accord pornographers. They need to be shunned."

David Axelrod, former senior advisor to President Barack Obama, expressed his own misgivings on Twitter Monday night, saying, "In NFL post-game: an ad for shoot 'em up video game. All for curbing weapons of war. But shouldn't we also quit marketing murder as a game?"

It's possible that the National Rifle Association, already on the defensive over gun control in the wake of the shootings, may try to shift some of the focus to violent media. Fox News today cites an "industry source" with news that the group's scheduled Friday press conference will see it "push back" against those who look at gun control as a silver bullet solution to the problem.

"If we're going to have a conversation, then let's have a comprehensive conversation," the source told Fox News. "If we're going to talk about the Second Amendment, then let's also talk about the First Amendment, and Hollywood, and the video games that teach young kids how to shoot heads."

Outside of the gaming industry, the debate over violent games has been largely quiet since the US Supreme Court last year struck down a California law that would have prohibited the sale of violent or sexually explicit games to minors. Within the industry, it has continued unabated after an assortment of particularly violent trailers at this year's Electronic Entertainment Expo.

GamesIndustry International has reached out to the Entertainment Software Association for comment.

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Latest comments (59)

Roderick Kennedy CEO, Simul4 years ago
The Usual Suspects... here's a Slate article about what a great humanitarian Joe Lieberman is.
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Joshua Rose Executive Producer / Lead Designer, Storm Eagle Studios4 years ago
Lieberman is a windbag. Axelrod is a rich windbag with an agenda.

I particularly like this quote....
"We not only have a Second Amendment in this country, we also have a First Amendment that protects Sylvester Stallone's right to fire thousands of bullets in any given movie," Klein said. "What we need to do in this society is treat people who create violent movies and violent video games with the same degree of respect we accord pornographers. They need to be shunned."
For some reason I read this statement and am reminded of the charlie the unicorn viral video from a few years ago where the two annoying ones begin repeating 'shuuuuuunnnnnn..... shuun the non believer.....' over and over again in various tones and vowel extension lengths. That's about how I would expect Lieberman to sound when he says this.

I feel for the victims and their families. Especially being so close to the holidays. But Lieberman and Axelrod are just using this incident as an excuse to continue pushing their own agendas.
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Josh Meier4 years ago
I'm really getting tired of people pointing to video games whenever a shooting occurs. I remember when they tried to blame DOOM for Columbine, because DOOM is so gosh darn realistic.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Josh Meier on 19th December 2012 4:56pm

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Show all comments (59)
Craig Burkey Software Engineer 4 years ago
The problem for me seems to be US Retail refusal to stock AO titles, I was totally unaware until recently that games rated 18+ in most territories are available for purchase in the US by under 18s. The M rating seems to be a massive fudge for some reason, that said I think the PEGI ratings are way to harsh compared to the BBFC ratings which I never really disagreed with
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Josh Meier4 years ago
The problem for me seems to be US Retail refusal to stock AO titles, I was totally unaware until recently that games rated 18+ in most territories are available for purchase in the US by under 18s. The M rating seems to be a massive fudge for some reason, that said I think the PEGI ratings are way to harsh compared to the BBFC ratings which I never really disagreed with
I know some stores ask for ID if you buy an M rated game, but most kids get around it by having their parents buy it for them.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Josh Meier on 19th December 2012 5:00pm

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Graham Bromley Lead Level Designer, Codemasters4 years ago
How many millions of people play shooters?
1 nutjob, from the Millions of people regularly playing shooters, isn't exactley enough to suggest a statistically valid link between shooting games and gun crime.

Pretty sure Thomas Hamilton wasn't a big fan of video games, but he murdered school kids too. What he did have in common with Adam Lanza, is that he also had access to guns and ammo.
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Will be interesting to see how this plays out now that the industry has completely changed, and the games they refer to are now in the minority. Maybe they should look at gun death figures from other countries who happen to share the same entertainment, and address their problems from that kind of starting point. Its like a third world country when it comes to this issue.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Sandy Lobban on 19th December 2012 5:02pm

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Gareth Jones Senior UI Engineer, Massive Interactive4 years ago
Anyone who tries to link violent crime to video games instantly loses any respect or credibility in my opinion, as they clearly don't have a clue what they're talking about.

So which video games was Adolf Hitler playing when he started WW2 and killed 6 million Jews and was responsible for the deaths of 42 million Europeans?

What about Joseph Stalin? Which game made him kill 20 million Russians?

Humans have been around for what - 4 million years? Video games for what - 40 years? Murder existed a LONG time before video games. It's time to find another scapegoat.
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Rod Oracheski Editor, Star News4 years ago
The Second Amendment is sacrosanct. The First Amendment, apparently not.

Edit - "But shouldn't we also quit marketing murder as a game?" Does that mean the US military will stop marketing going to war as a game in their recruiting drives?

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Rod Oracheski on 19th December 2012 5:45pm

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Thomas Kennedy Unemployed (Seeking work) 4 years ago
I don't think this guy understands about violence and video games, MOST windbags refer to kids that shouldn't even be playing said games.

look at all the First person shooters that are sold, over 10 of millions have been sold to consumers around the world and your telling me because 1-2 people who happened to of played this games that everyone who plays games are ticking time bombs till murder street? I would happily point out that back before video games existed movies got the brunt of "its turning out kids into monsters" and I'm when a new form of entertainment like much improved augmented reality or full on virtual reality that governors will begin blaming that.

A game does not turn us all into monsters, if it did then by that logic we would still have people fighting to the death for entertainment in a Colosseum or something, its entirely down to the individual and the mental state, NOT video games
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Paul Johnson Managing Director / Lead code monkey, Rubicon Development4 years ago
As usual. Ban games. Don't ban guns. *yawn*
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Paul Johnson Managing Director / Lead code monkey, Rubicon Development4 years ago
Let's retry that headline to be more indicative of what's going on there:

"Man with axe to grind uses a tragedy to get some air time"

He shoud be banned and maybe prosecuted for latching on to something like this for personal gain.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Paul Johnson on 19th December 2012 6:52pm

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Daniele Azara Executive producer, Palzoun entertainment4 years ago
If you have interests in guns, it's obvious video games are the problem.
Anyway, on a statistical basis, there are more psychopats between billions of non players then between millions of players (of violent games).
These politicians are quite boring, predictable and greedy: they can't comprehend the phenomenon, that's all.
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Robert Jones Experianced Programmer, Codemasters4 years ago
Maybe I'm missing something here, with the complete media-fest this story quickly became its hard to find solid information, but has there been any proof that he was even a gamer?

When the shooter was misidentified originally it looked like he was with the Bioware/Mass Effect guys getting a hammering, but since the correction what do we really know?

A google search shows up a few tabloid pressing the idea but my level of trust for them getting the facts right is about zero; other papers/sites which I would trust more however haven't mentioned the gaming angle at all so it's hard to get a solid read on this.
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Boris Vigec Technical Art Director, Zootfly4 years ago
First it was rock'n'roll, then it was movies, now it's video games :P
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Darren Adams Managing Director, ChaosTrend4 years ago
Tragic as it is, this happens all the time.

Kids shoot parents/school friends/teachers and then the media and politicians jump on the 'what form of culture/art shall we blame this on' etc, etc 'Policy change' etc, etc.. It overshadows the real tragedy, which is that someone can be so depressed/disillusioned with life that they feel the need to go and kill their parents, friends or whoever.

As usual the real issues get swept aside in the favor of provocative tabloid stirrings.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Darren Adams on 19th December 2012 6:11pm

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James Wells Gaming Contributor - 4 years ago
So sick of all these clueless, knee-jerk reactions from politicians. What about, oh, I dunno, taking a look at how broken the US mental health system is? Why is it so hard to treat people with mental disorders, depression, etc etc...? Lazy politicians and greedy health insurance companies.
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Pablo Santos Developer 4 years ago
Well, I don't believe anyone who makes such simplistic assumptions.
I think that given the many factors revolving about violence: the movies, civilians being able to buy military-grade rifles, the sensationalist news companies that use violence to attract more audience, the banalization of violence in video games *may* play a tiny part in the big picture. The problem is that people tend to be simplistic and try to find the one single cause for a problem that has more to do with the culture of a country than any individual industry.
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Hugo Trepanier Game Designer, Behaviour Interactive4 years ago
Statistically speaking, any (potential) killer nowadays has for more chances of having played Angry Birds than any violent FPS. No one is ever going to make that connection in the media though, for obvious reasons.

The idea of banning this form of entertainment is quite ludicrous but perhaps we could use this opportunity to reflect on the kind of values we want to put forward as an industry. Far too many games today rely purely on killing, often in grimy realistic ways, while there are so many opportunities for decent entertainment without the need for so much violence.

I enjoy a good bombastic AAA shooter as much as anyone else but I also miss the good old adventure games that made me think and learn as I solved riddles. I learned to read and write English with a dictionary in hand while playing King's Quest III. There are so many great stories to be told, and just as in the cinema business not all of it has to be about violence and killings. There are many ways to get an adrenaline rush in gaming, for instance with sports or racing games. We need more quality action games that don't focus on death as a solution to anything.

If we can't show the world we're respectable and sensible adults, how can we be taken seriously? It's not surprising misinformed people like Mr. Lieberman and co would disagree with us when we don't have much to offer that contradicts them.
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Emily Rose Freelance Artist 4 years ago pretty much covers my opinions on this.
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Paul Gheran Scrum Master 4 years ago
Remember the pre-cold war era when the only entertainment was mass shootings?
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Marty Greenwell Software Developer 4 years ago
@Gareth Jones - you say Hitler was not influenced by media, but that's not entirely true. Hitler liked Wagner and as we all know, Wagner encouraged Elmer Fudd to kill the wabbit.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Marty Greenwell on 19th December 2012 7:03pm

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William D. Volk CCO, PlayScreen4 years ago
Last Sunday I received a bunch of very negative IM's on Facebook, in relation to violent video games. Examples:
Please stop creating games that harm our society and rob kids from their parents. Please tell me how you can sleep at night?

Not good enough. I read the NYT article. You need to implore your industry to do much better, damn you all.
Finally I said:
I haven't worked at Activision since 1994. I am guessing you think I'm still there.
(I was the VP of Tech there at the time)

And got this:
My mistake. Thanks for clarifying.
Interesting, because for the last almost 20-years I have been working in educational/casual/children games.

There's a lot of anger about this issue. Just noting that.
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Marty Greenwell Software Developer 4 years ago
"It's not surprising misinformed people like Mr. Lieberman and co would disagree with us when we don't have much to offer that contradicts them."

Just looking at my raptr tracking, only 12.5% of my playlist are FPS ( - that seems to suggest that there is plenty already that contradicts them.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Marty Greenwell on 19th December 2012 7:32pm

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Let's keep our eyes on the truck coming at us and not the fly on our nose. Pointing attention to the easiest target isn't the most helpful or safe. Unless the point is to distract from the real issues, Mr. Lieberman, Mr. Klein?

Saying that we need to stop violence in video games because they cause this type of violence is like asking television and movies to stop showing people drinking alcohol because they'll go drive drunk, which incidentally resulted in about 10,000 deaths last year.

The reality is that the effect of eliminating violent gameplay and this horrible type of behavior is minuscule when compared to better handling of mental health issues and enforcing gun control effectively.

Or am I'm mistaken? Because I thought murders and killings existed pre-1972, right? The year Pong was launched?

Ultimately, game developers are parents too. I can't imagine what the families at Newtown are experiencing right now, but I hope that their sacrifice isn't wasted on political jockeying and media one-upsmanship but rather a real analysis of what needs to happen to stop or at least minimize the chances of something like this ever happening again.
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Great video and content, Tim. Thanks!
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Paul Jace Merchandiser 4 years ago
Klein said. "What we need to do in this society is treat people who create violent movies and violent video games with the same degree of respect we accord pornographers. They need to be shunned."

I actually like certain violent movies, video games and....wait for too:) If anything we should "shun" people who make stupid statements like Mr. Klein.

Yes this is a tragic event and it's nice that the gun control and mental health issus arguements are coming back but thats just the beginning. Theres alot of work to do before we can prepare as best as possible to try and avoid a similiar trajedy. However, another thing to consider if responsibility. Many people seem to blame stuff like this on mental health disorders, where in they place the shooters actions/motivations on something else because he was apparently crazy. But the more I think of these shooters the less crazy I think they are. Are they acting out psychopathic tendecies? Absoulutely. However, they have all thought and planned these attacks out well in advance of when they actually carried them out. That seems way too organized for me to think they are just some nut with an itchy trigger finger.
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John McGrath Student - Computer Games Development BSc 4 years ago
Games come third? So where does U.S military policy come? Doesn't America's 'gun-ho' attitude toward it's 'enemies' sit higher in that list? On one hand it's okay to bomb the hell out of third-world countries, but on the other hand imaginary violence is a no-no :/
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Marty Greenwell Software Developer 4 years ago
@ Andrea okay, thanks for that. A point very well made. Apart from the industry bit. And the oil bit. And the indiscriminately bit. But the rest is definitely accurate and relevant.
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Greg Wilcox Creator, Destroy All Fanboys! 4 years ago
i wonder what games Charles Whitman played when he went up in that bell tower in Texas with a sniper rifle on August 1, 1966. Lee Harvey Oswald? Oh, he was a champ at Call of Duty, I bet. Hey, that Jack the Ripper must have played a LOT of Trauma Center: Under the Knife for his steam-powered Nintendo DS...

As for movies? Same thing. Tarantino's Django Unchained premiere was canceled for what reason? Amusingly enough cable has go on showing all sorts of violent flicks that should be yanked for content if we're going to get that sensitive, but that's not happening (nor going to happen).

Someone needs to sit these stupid politicians, aides and media people from the left, center and right down and explain some basics to them. I've heard video games mentioned at least three hundred or so times over the last five days as something that needs to be looked into as a "cause" of violence or part of the problem that leads to it. The ONLY thing about the shooter I've heard even remotely game related was he "was into computers" which doesn't mean shit at the end of the day.

Given that I've been a gamer since 1972 (not counting failed pinball attempts four years earlier) and have played (and own) thousands of games, how come I'm not stacking bodies under the floorboards like John Wayne Gacy (who may have played a video game or two, but I don't think there were any that fit his methods)?

The insanity here comes from the people trying to figure things out who keep looking in the wrong direction.
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Paul Johnson Managing Director / Lead code monkey, Rubicon Development4 years ago
oi, I have a lot of respect for pornographers!
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I once heard certain mental disabilities get triggered by strawberries. Ban the strawberries!
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Marty Greenwell Software Developer 4 years ago
Quite happy to agree with you Andrea once you can provide one shred of research to back up your claims.

Meanwhile why aren't we persecuting publishers for all the rapists out there, given all the rape games?

Personally, I'm still waiting for photo realism in games.
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Patrick Williams Medicine and Research 4 years ago
If these games were responsible for violence in the US, they'd cause violence outside the US since the US isn't the only place where they're played.

Plenty of research has gone to demonstrate games do not cause violence and we have people like Rockefeller who want to waste taxpayer dollars to perform studies on topics that have already been researched with tax payer dollars.
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Your question is a good one, and I'd like to see the science on it. I don't have it.

My personal belief is that the answer is Neither, simply because other factors weigh more heavily on an individual's propensity to commit violence. Abuse, bullying, lack of supervision, mental health, etc. Without those elements being there, violent games, media, what have you, won't trigger it, won't contribute towards it.

And in the instances where violent games are played by criminals, can you say confidently that it was the causal factor? I can't. Everyone plays video games these days, yet everyone is not more violent. Violent crime has been dropping since Doom came out in 1991, how does that figure? By the same logic we could claim that violent video games are the "cause" of lower violent crime. But I wouldn't say that because that's correlative not causal.

We could also reference the Washington Post, which posted a blog where it's pretty clear. The US spends per capita as much on video games that Canada, France, Australia, the UK, Germany, and Japan do, and far less than South Korea and the Netherlands. Yet why is it that gun-related murders in the US are over 5 times likely per capita?

Greg's and my point about Hitler differs from your claim about the Amish. We're not claiming casualty. You are.

In fact, the bearding episode in Western Pennsylvania recently, shows that violence is something that everyone is susceptible to despite their lack of a PS3 and electricity to play it with, and it's simply not something that can be caused by video games without additional external factors and influences.

In the absence of video games, so much violence has occurred and been perpetrated throughout history to claim that video games causes violence is silly. Does it contribute? For a person who is otherwise NOT at risk? Don't think so. For a person who IS at risk? Perhaps. And that's exactly the point: Why aren't we focusing on eliminating the factors that put people AT RISK then?! Those seem to be more relevant, don't they?

So while I feel that yes, it is a good discussion, my issue is that it draws attention away from the topics that really could benefit from a strong, logical debate. Mental health, gun law enforcement, et al. Resolutions on those topics could actually influence legislation or improved enforcement of laws over the causes and influences that are the most significantly or directly related to the violence. Just because they are difficult topics to address doesn't mean that they're not the culprits. More importantly, just because they don't fit certain political agendas or interests doesn't mean they should be immune to scrutiny.

But every minute you spend focusing on the wrong target, the less chance we have to resolving the real issues. So the next time an at risk individual is in a position to do some real harm, it will happen again. Not because we don't care but because we continue to focus on the wrong things, and folks with their own agenda are happy to continue to mislead this debate into areas for their own purposes instead of solving the problem. And as noble as some folks believe their motives are, they're simply adding to the delay of keeping people safe.

This isn't just a discussion any more, it's about doing something to prevent real violence not game violence.

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Robin Clarke Producer, AppyNation Ltd4 years ago
@Andrea Pipparolo: The real issue is the ready availability of guns. Now please go and troll somewhere else.


I find the reactions within the industry of "well maybe it's time we grew up" to be as frustratingly unhelpful (and transparently agenda-driven) as the political scapegoating.

There has never been any real risk of the industry being entirely consumed by cheap exploitation tactics. (And to apply some historical perspective, the extent to which violence is used as a crutch in modern games pales in comparison to the landscape in the early 1990s, where Doom, Mortal Kombat and CD-ROM 'video nasties' had every two-bit developer scrambling to make ever more stomach-churning clones thereof.) Consumers quickly wise up to controversy being used in place of substance.

Ignorant commentators are never going to be satisfied with industry self-censorship - the version of games in their head will always be detached from reality.

There's room for all kinds of expression, in all kinds of media.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Robin Clarke on 20th December 2012 1:27am

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Joshua Rose Executive Producer / Lead Designer, Storm Eagle Studios4 years ago
I'm an avid gun collector, I have no problem admitting this, nor am I ashamed to do so. I also personally feel that bringing up the gun control stance is just as useless as saying violence in video games is the reason.

From what I've heard in the news, he had a Glock, and an AR-15 with several 30 round magazines... which, are in fact already illegal in CN. The gunmen was 20 years old, he had a Glock, which is a handgun. Under federal law, you must be 21 to purchase a handgun. The same goes for the ammunition. So... Lets see what we have here, we have a rifle with an illegal (in CN) magazine, and a handgun in the possession of an underage individual. Clearly the laws governing limitations on "military-grade weapons" are working perfectly.

Violent incidents such as this have been around long before the Chinese even created gunpowder. Speaking of China, wasn't there a story at some point over the past several months where a man in China went into a school and stabbed 22 children with a knife? What are they going to do? Are they going to start forcing everybody in the country to register their kitchen cutlery? I don't know about you, but my Henkel knives are my own business. Oh but wait... I guess we could blame his actions on the Medieval times when Mongolians did unspeakable things to the countries of Asia. I guess they were looking too much at those Medieval pornographic images huh?

Gun control does not solve this problem, nor does removal of violence in video games. The fact that these sorts of actions existed long before the invention of electricity further goes to prove my point. Anybody that's willing to do such a criminal act, does not care about legality of gun acquisition or any other laws for that matter. So more and more and more laws limiting the ownership of guns is only going to create another issue in itself. Gun ownership in the US is a constitutional right that shall not be infringed.
"Laws that forbid the carrying of arms... disarm only those who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes... Such laws make things worse for the assaulted and better for the assailants; they serve rather to encourage than to prevent homicides, for an unarmed man may be attacked with greater confidence than an armed man"
~~ Thomas Jefferson
"If more sane people carried guns, the crazy people would get off fewer shots." It may be a quote I saw on facebook, but that doesn't make it any less true of a statement.
Switzerland is a land where crime is virtually unknown, yet most Swiss males are required by law to keep in their homes what amounts to a portable, personal machine gun.
~~ Tom Clancy
I'm not sure if this last one is still valid, but at one point in time it was.

There are many open carry states in the US, many states in which you can open carry with a permit, most states issue concealed carry permits. Getting a permit usually requires a minimum of an extended background check, as well as a certification class in gun safety. I've heard some states have up to two week waiting periods for rifles, and it's virtually impossible to own a handgun. Somebody who is going to commit a crime is not going to care about gun laws. Even if guns were one hundred percent illegal, criminals will be the only ones with guns.
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Klaus Preisinger Freelance Writing 4 years ago
"We've got to again start the conversation about butter in the common household," Lieberman said. "Obviously not everybody who eats butter becomes a killer, but the social science is pretty clear here. Particularly for people who are vulnerable because they do have mental problems, the butter in their diet stimulates them to act out."
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Robin Clarke Producer, AppyNation Ltd4 years ago
@Andrea Pipparolo: Come barrelling into a discussion by comparing everyone to oil industry scientists and that's what happens. Bye!

@Joshua Rose: I'm not going to throw up my hands in outcry at your position. There is a cultural gap between the US and the rest of the industrialised world on this issue. But culture can change, you don't have to shrug and say this is how things have always been - we'd have never had the advances (still on-going) in civil rights and general improvements to people's health and quality of life over the last century if we'd just clung to hundreds of year old documents as unchanging laws of the universe.

And the difference with the guy in China with the knife? There weren't 20+ fatalities as a result. I think that's a bit of NRA rhetoric creeping in to your argument which weakens it.

It's clear that the ready availability of guns is a contributing factor when combined with other social factors. I think most efforts to maintain the status quo are profit motivated, and as with tobacco there has to be a point at which the damage to society has to limit the 'right' to capitalise on causing that damage. Fewer guns, better screening and more stringent rules for securing them would all help prevent tragedies like this.
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Bruce Everiss Marketing Consultant 4 years ago
After a previous mass shooting the US government commissioned research into this exact subject. The result is the book Grand Theft Childhood which exonerates games. In Britain we had the Byron Review that did likewise.
Patrick Kierkegaard of the University of Essex is a world expert on this subject. He has concluded that violent video games lead to a reduction in real world violence by their players. The games act as a catharsis. Google his name for lots of information:
In every country that has introduced violent video games there has been a concurrent reduction in violent crime. These are the things that our trade bodies should be shouting from the hilltops.

The perpetrator of this latest terrible crime had Aspergers. This means he did not experience normal emotions, that he was sociopathic and that he lacked empathy with other human beings. To give him access to devices purely designed to kill others, such as an assault rifle and high powered pistols was a failing in the society in America. And absolutely nothing to do with video games.

Having said that, the dominance of extreme violence in current console gaming is a bit sad and depressing. Our art can do so much better to reflect the human condition and to entertain. Shakespeare lived 500 years ago and with just a simple quill pen was able to do a vastly better job than we can manage with the latest technology.

Finally gaming is an entertainment art. Like books, television, opera, ballet, film, theatre, etc etc. Of all of these gaming is the most censored. In fact there is zero censorship of books and they contain some terrible stuff. Have you seen how violent the Bible is?

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Bruce Everiss on 20th December 2012 9:43am

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@Joshua Rose: "Gun control does not solve this problem"

I agree that taking away all guns won't solve this problem, but they certainly make murder sprees easier. I think what you highlighted when mentioning the weapons he had however, is that the current gun control laws are failing to control guns.
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John Bye Lead Designer, Future Games of London4 years ago
My understanding is that the guns belonged (legally) to his mother. Who was the first person he killed with them.
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@ Bruce. Exactly.

Americans should simply look at other countries who share the same entertainment but don't go around killing each other like they do, and work back from there. It really isn't rocket science.

Humans get into arguments, the human condition is ever changing and you can never predict how confrontations and arguments will evolve. This is and readily available weapons is the reason they have the amount of gun deaths they do. Itís got nothing to do with games. They've been going around shooting each other long before video games.

I've fired a few hand guns when I was in Germany with friends, and to think people are going around freely with that kind of thing on the street is downright sick.
We were more interested in who was had the best score on the targets. It had nothing to do with the different guns. We would have had the same fun with an air gun to be honest. An interesting point about it was, there were a few guys there that I didn't know, and I did feel apprehensive about being in the same room as them with live ammo, and not knowing their psychological state of mind. I assume that's what the American culture of fear feels like on a daily basis, and probably contributes to someoneís desire to own a gun in order to "even things up", should someone snap or confront them. I certainly wouldn't have wanted to be "gun-less" if they did. If no one had a gun however, that feeling simply wouldn't exist.

If any pro gun person can tell me how a gun enhances their life, or contributes to the lives of others then fire away?
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Tristram Defries4 years ago
I think Simon Baron-Cohen would dispute Bruce's description of Asperger's. I think Joshua misunderstands Switzerland and Tom Clancy was wrong about the statistics.

The games industry and gamers shouldn't dismiss, demean or disparage the concerns expressed by parents and others. It is right that we're subject to scrutiny and we should undergo self-scrutiny (and we do). However, while parents want to prevent their children turning to violence or becoming victims of violence, there is no evidence that banning violent games will help.

It's worth reading the whole Supreme Court decision, including the dissenting opinion, referred to by the OP, Brown v Entertainment Merchants' Association, but here are the key take-outs (as they say):

1. correlation is not causation, and there is no proof that violent games cause violence;
2. any demonstrated effects are indistinguishable from effects produced by other media;
3. the games industry "outpaces" the movie and music industries in terms of marketing and disclosing mature content.

Violent games are an easy but wrong target, and if you genuinely want to do something about gun violence it looks like you are wasting your time trying to ban violent games. Thought experiment: let's say no violent games (or films, TV or music) are ever made again, but there are yet more gun-related tragedies. What then? I suspect people will uncomfortably conclude that dead children are a cost of the current interpretation of the Second Amendment. Perhaps there isn't anything that will completely solve the problem, and that's the really uncomfortable truth: that some tragedies are beyond our ability to completely prevent.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Tristram Defries on 20th December 2012 12:25pm

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Tim Carter Designer - Writer - Producer 4 years ago
Lots of cognitive dissonance among spoiled videogame developers.
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Joshua Rose Executive Producer / Lead Designer, Storm Eagle Studios4 years ago
I assume that's what the American culture of fear feels like on a daily basis, and probably contributes to someoneís desire to own a gun in order to "even things up", should someone snap or confront them. I certainly wouldn't have wanted to be "gun-less" if they did. If no one had a gun however, that feeling simply wouldn't exist.
Your assumption would only partially be correct. It's not so much a culture of fear, more of a culture of realism. Instead of looking at things as how they should be, look at things as how they are right now.

I own guns for multiple reasons. Who wouldn't love spending an afternoon going out to a friend's farm to go trap shooting (clay targets)? I enjoy target practice to sharpen my personal skill with firearms. My hobbies are my own, I do not harm anyone in doing them, nor do I ever intend to do so.

Now for my realist reasons. I will do whatever is necessary to protect myself and my loved ones. By that reason alone I should not be forced to further justify my purpose for owning a gun, nor should anybody else that does so for the same reason. I agree that there is more that could be done to prevent these sorts of things from happening. I do not disagree that there are some people who should not be allowed to own a firearm. But you know what? Until something IS done that permanently resolves this sort of problem, it can/will happen again. This is a sad and terrible truth we all have to face. Until something IS done, there's nothing you can do to protect yourself and your loved ones. So, back to Sandy's quote.... Would you rather be in that situation and be a helpless target, or would you rather be the person that could prevent the killer from causing any more casualties?

We can should of/could of/would of all damned day until the cows come home... But that doesn't change the fact that this STILL HAPPENS. You may choose whether or not to own a gun and shall not condemn you for either decision, please do not condemn me and the legitimate and sane citizens of my country for exercising our right to do the same.
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Joshua Rose Executive Producer / Lead Designer, Storm Eagle Studios4 years ago
Okay, maybe that was a bad rhetorical question to ask.

Back during the summer I'd spend every Sunday going shooting with a friend of mine, his girlfriend, and my girlfriend. We would all have a good time and enjoy ourselves. I would not expect everybody to enjoy such an activity, but why should I be condemned for enjoying it? I don't condemn you because you don't enjoy it.

You can kill just as many people with a gun as you could with a chainsaw, axe, machete, shovel, or just about any other garden tool available on the market. It wouldn't be as effective, but still just as lethal. Tools which are used in gardening; a hobby an activity. Yet, gardening tools are much easier to purchase than a gun. You don't have to go through a background check to own a chainsaw.

That is but one section of my entire argument. And it's not even a main part of the argument, it's a supporting anecdote that was poorly chosen. Before anybody tries to 'pass off' my perfectly valid argument as NRA rhetoric propaganda, I would like to say that while I am an avid gun enthusiast and owner, I am not a member nor am I affiliated in any way with the NRA (hehe that rhymed).

Please do not pass off my argument with a statement like "Oh he's just an American..." or "Sounds like NRA rhetoric to me"... Because that doesn't contribute to the conversation in any way, it just shows that you would rather use a generic retort instead of having a legitimate and well thought out contribution to the discussion as a whole.
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Tristram Defries4 years ago
I'm struggling to think why we give soldiers guns if garden tools are just as lethal. Maybe MFI and B&Q will start lobbying the Ministry of Defence.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Tristram Defries on 20th December 2012 4:24pm

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Joshua Rose Executive Producer / Lead Designer, Storm Eagle Studios4 years ago
I do not have kids. But when I do, My guns will be in a locked safe in my bedroom well out of reach of any children.

Also at the same time I would expose my children to the safe and responsible use of firearms at an early (but reasonable) age. The best way to be safe around a gun is to know how to respect it. If you're taught safety and respect at an early age, by the time they're old enough to buy their own, It's as second nature to them as breathing.

As for games like Call of Duty, you can't make a decision on age alone. Somebody that's 17 years old may still have the moral maturity of a 10 year old, or not have any at all. A game with violence like Call of Duty or something like that, I would not let my kid play until they were at least 16. Even then I'd be damned sure they were mature enough to handle it. On top of that, I'd make sure their use was monitored, because that's what a parent is supposed to do.

My first violent video game was Duck Hunt on the NES... and I was like 4 years old. I also played Mario at the same time, but you don't see me running around the world stomping on every turtle and walking mushroom I see. I do, however, enjoy eating duck and goose... but that probably stems from a diverse culinary exposure as I was growing up, not from shooting digital ducks on a video screen complete with a dog that would laugh at me when I missed...

I completely agree that there need to be ways to keep people from owning guns that should not. Most states in the US require a minimum background check when purchasing a firearm, some states don't. I do believe that a background check should be mandatory in ALL states. Proof of sanity can be a little difficult because even a textbook psychopath is a damned good liar.
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Robin Clarke Producer, AppyNation Ltd4 years ago
@Joshua Rose: The statistics make the "if guns weren't available people would just use knives/bats/sharp sticks/etc." argument look silly. It's the perfectionist fallacy - it's being dismissed because people recognise it for what it is, not to shut down the rest of your argument. It gets classed as gun lobby propaganda because it doesn't even get considered as a plausible position outside of the US.

There's an awful lot that could be done to stop guns being misused that wouldn't encroach on your recreational use of them.
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I think Gangnam virals are probably just as effective. lob a YT vid at insurgents and overpower with westernised capitalism culture. aiyeeeee! (thats why there are staff cuts in the MOD perhaps!)
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Iíll be honest, if I lived there, and I do have family in Florida, and a visa to live there permanently, I would potentially end up with one in case someone broke in and threatened my family with a gun. I would assume itís the weapon of choice for a burglar there. There is a baseball bat in my house for the very same reason. Itís highly unlikely that someone would break into my house with a gun, so a baseball bat works just fine here. Obviously I'd make sure they never did it again, but the point is, the chance of death is (slightly) less for them and more importantly less for me. Should a baseball bat get into the hands of the wrong person itís also pretty limited in terms of the damage it can do in the same space of time when compared to a gun. Same goes for a knife or chainsaw. You just canít disarm someone with a gun. You can probably see where I'm going with that argument. More guns mean more deaths overall in society. If you think the current gun death rate is worth it then thatís fine, but the numbers speak for themselves.
I also get your point about the target practice. I'm not disputing that. Itís fun. I don't think you need a magnum or a glock for that though. I'm not sure everyone who buys a hand gun, buys it for target practice. They certainly donít buy machine guns for target practice.
At some point, if you are all going to get along and stop these things happening there's going to have to be a de-escalation of firearms and better control whether some of you dislike it or not. You may think otherwise, but it will get to that point. If I was making the rules, I would probably start from the position of everyone trading their weapon in, in exchange for a less destructive version and start limiting it to one per person. That way everyone can still feel protected, they get to shoot targets and they are slightly less dangerous if they end up in the wrong hands.
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The single, solitary reason that video games are even slightly in the frame here is the same as it always was.

The gun lobby needs to do something, anything, to distract attention away from them.

That's it. There's nothing else to it. They need to distract everyone else's attention away, and especially their own, lest they consider their own culpability for even a moment and the cognitive dissonance become unbearable.

I have never, to date, been able to kill anyone with a copy of Call of Duty:Black Ops.
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Jason Sartor Copy editor/Videographer, Florida Today4 years ago
Ironic that people come to the defense of video games because video games are a scapegoat and then turn around and blame a gun to feel secure in their own scapegoat. Blame an inanimate object, don't blame the individual.

Murder is as old as the human race. Read Cain and Abel from the bible, read the hammurabi. The Aztecs sacrificed 20,000 people a year without a single gun. The Art of War existed long before the gun, Rome Egypt, etc., etc., etc.

Using razor blades and airplanes terrorist murdered more than 3,000 people on Sept. 11, 2001. That is 150 times the amount of children who were murdered in Conn. Perhaps if we ban airplanes this would never happen again. It would not have happened to begin with had the world just banned airplanes after the bombing of Pan Am flight 103 (Lockerbie bombing) to begin with.

In fact, the Conn. murderer killed himself when the first armed opposition arrived. This is why they choose the weak and unarmed. Had he faced resistance from the start or knew people would shoot back he would not have done it. Bullies never pick on the kids who punch back.

The state with the most strict gun laws is Illinois and it has the highest gun crime rate in America.

Here are some facts: Gun crimes in America are down 20 percent since 2005 as carried concealed laws have been adopted across the country, There were less mass gun shootings in America in the 2000's decade than in the 1980s decade and 1990s decade.

In 1987 Florida adopted carry concealed weapons laws and now has surpassed 1 million residents with the right to carry concealed weapons. Here is the downward trend of every year for violent crime as per capita and the reduced numbered of violent crimes overall despite massive continued population growth during the same time period for the 20 years from 1991 to 2011. The Source is the Florida Department of Law Enforcement:
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That's not "ironic" since you can't kill someone with a videogame. I must admit I missed the BLOPS2 Special Edition, did it come with an AK-47? ;)

For comparisons that actually are somewhat relevant, you should compare violent crime rates from the US to other Western nations where there simply aren't that many guns around. It doesn't bode well.

But then again... this is quite similar to debating religion. Since these 'beliefs' aren't based on rationale but on deep seated emotion and a just short of holy Second Amendment, there's simply no point in trying to debate this with rationality.

In any case, I'm off on a much needed Christmas holiday, so I wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! Cheers everyone!

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Laurens Bruins on 20th December 2012 11:22pm

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Jason Sartor Copy editor/Videographer, Florida Today4 years ago
@laurens: I am using facts. This isn't beliefs. Hence the FDLE facts I provided. And thoughts are the most dangerous thing in the world. Hence why Hitler banned books, the Taliban doesn't want people to get an education and why the U.S. Constitution first and foremost among rights was the freedom of thought, speech and religion.

The second was the right to bear arms to protect freedom. Which is why Hitler and other dictators promptly disarm its citizens. China blocks speech too, and it is much easier to control thought when China and Cuba (Castro) toss political dissidents in jail and you can simply run over unarmed protesters with tanks.

And here is your comparison to other developed countries for violent crime:

This one will tell you that Britain and Australia also tops the U.S.
Here is the whole headline to this article: Britain, Australia top U.S. in violent crime
subhead: Rates Down Under increase despite strict gun-control measures

You see, the U.S. in comparison ranks better than most other countries and would be a hell of lot better too, if we could cut down on illegal immigration and the drug cartels and human smugglers along the Mexican border.

Check out the graphic from the Guardian showing the facts and add that to this paragraph in the story:
The U.S. has a violence rate of 466 crimes per 100,000 residents.
Here is the top violence rate per 100,000 residents:
1. UK 2,034
2. Australia 1,677
3. South Africa 1,609
4. Sweden 1,123
5. Belgium 1,006
6. Canada 935
7. Finland 738
8. Netherlands 676
9. Luxembourg 565
10. France 504
U.S rate is 466.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Jason Sartor on 21st December 2012 2:13am

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I must admit I'm a bit skeptical of your statistics, but apart from that; noone expects crime to disappear without guns, but we're not talking crime in general here but the kinds of extreme violence and deadly crime we've seen at Newtown, Colorado, Virginia Tech etc. (aswell as armed robberies, armed assault, crazy people shooting the place up - and generally just trying to kill things which guns are pretty good at):

Crazy people do crazy things, and if you really want to go nuts you will find a way, but where I'm from there aren't many depressed teens going on killingsprees, because well... they don't have assault rifles.

I really need to get some sleep and I'm afraid I can't respond for the next week, but I don't want to get involved much more anyway and it's a different discussion too. My stance on the original point, Games vs. Newtown or what have you can concisely be described as: "Please..."


Edited 4 times. Last edit by Laurens Bruins on 21st December 2012 3:33am

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@Jason. Here is another snippet from the Guardian:

The US has the highest gun ownership rate in the world - there are 89 guns for every 100 Americans, compared to 6 in England, Scotland and Wales. And the murder figures themselves are astounding for Brits used to around 550 murders per year. In 2011 - the latest year for which detailed statistics are available - there were 12,664 murders in the US. Of those, 8,583 were caused by firearms.
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Jason Sartor Copy editor/Videographer, Florida Today4 years ago
@Sandy: It is true America has an overall more crime, of course America is the third-most populous country in the world. We have approx. 320 million people here. As such greater numbers of people means we will have more bad people, we also have more good people by the same measure. But our crime rate per capita is excellent by comparison.
Here is a link for the most dangerous cities in America. If you look at the demographics and what culture it is, you will find being a victim of a random murder is very low in the States. Most are gang and drug related. And of the small remainder, a majority comes down to domestic dispute.

Firearms do cause murders. Murderers cause murders.
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