US Senator: Games affect people, guns don't

Tennessee's Lamar Alexander explains why he thinks games are a bigger problem than firearms

Gun control opponents in the US are continuing to shift blame for mass shootings away from firearms and toward violent video games. In an appearance on MSNBC's The Daily Rundown today, Tennessee Senator Lamar Alexander brought up games when asked if there was any chance he could support a bill for universal background checks on gun purchases.

"I'm going to wait and see on all of these bills," Alexander said. "I think video games is a bigger problem than guns, because video games affect people. But the First Amendment limits what we can do about video games and the Second Amendment to the Constitution limits what we can do about guns. So the details matter to me. I'm going to be skeptical of any of these proposals and examine them in light of the Second Amendment to the Constitution."

The appearance came on the same day as a Senate hearing on what can be done about the problem of gun violence in the US. At that hearing, NRA chief Wayne LaPierre reiterated his call for armed security guards in every school, as well as the enforcement of gun laws already on the books. Last month, LaPierre put the blame for the Newtown, CT elementary school shooting on games, calling the gaming business "a callous, corrupt, and corrupting shadow industry that sells and sows violence against own people..."

Former Arizona Representative Gabrielle Giffords also appeared at the panel, telling legislators that "too many children are dying," and something must be done to curb gun violence now. Giffords was shot in the head while meeting with voters in a January 2011 event.

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Latest comments (24)

Adam Jordan Community Manager, Ubisoft5 years ago
I honestly cannot believe that it's these kind of people that have power and control within the biggest and most powerful countries in the world.

Now I am going to say, well done on the "wait and see" comment...the idea of being "neutral" to both sides is what should be done but sadly I can't see a neutral view being taken by anyone.

Guns affect people as much as everything else within today's society...the fact that they are freely available within the US is the scary thing.


Currently in today's society, this is how it is viewed:
Video games: A strong hand governs retailers from selling to anyone underage, I believe ESRB ratings aren't as strict as PEGI ratings but it does lean more towards Parents actually being parents and supervising their children and being active within their hobbies, interests and such.

Heck when I was 15, I was asked to show my ID at a games retailer and then was told that an adult would need to buy the video game AFTER the cashier had witnessed the adult giving verbal permission that it was ok for me to play the game. Now bear in mind, at 15 I was getting served within pubs and clubs on Friday and Saturday nights.

US citizens can buy firearms pretty much any where and hold registered firearms within their house, which are also in plain sight and easily accessible to children. All because it is their "right" and within the declaration of independence.

Now the funny thing is, I know that parents have gone to jail just purely because they neglected to watch their child for a few minutes and found them moments later dead from finding the bleach under the sink and thinking it was a drink that the could have.

Now before anyone says that I am not being neutral....I would like to point out that I am not dismissing that video games can have an affect on people. In fact I do believe in some cases they can, for example...I have had many video game related dreams where I have believed that I am within that game in that sense yes, it can affect you but I still do not believe that video games are the cause of such violent crimes, I still say that it's the people that commit the crimes that should be blamed, however I also think that firearms are being let off the hook, purely because it's tangled up within the 2nd amendment

Also just to recap:

My suggested solution to this whole fiasco is to get gun owners to make sure their registered weapons are highly secure. Most video game related gun crimes are in fact due to the person grabbing a firearm within the same house they live in.

Example being the Newton shooting....The guy took his own mother's gun, shot her and then proceeded to unload on a nearby school and then himself.

Sure, if the mother locked up her firearms or didn't have one in the house, the guy could have just gone somewhere nearby and bought one but that might have made the event end differently (Obviously I can't say that it would since I am not a fortune teller)

But the point is...just like Parents are made aware of the age ratings of Video Games and what is included within a video game, the same should and could be done for guns in the sense of gun safety, keeping them locked up safe and general common sense

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Adam Jordan on 30th January 2013 9:09pm

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Jamie Read 3D Artist, Neon Play Ltd5 years ago
There are some morons in power, that's for sure. Considering the US has such slack laws on guns and some on the highest rates of gun violence in the world, it doesn't take a genius to draw a link between the two. I can't believe people like this have managed to work their way up in jobs, getting paid vast sums of money (usually) and have this level of intelligence.
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Paul Jace Merchandiser 5 years ago
Fact: Everyone of the victims of each mass school shooting in the US were killed by guns.

Fact: NONE of the victims killed in each of the mass school shootings in the US were killed by video games.

You can check with the coroners but I'm pretty sure they only pulled out bullets from the victims dead bodies. None of them had game disc, cases or even manuals lodged into them.

So we need to make a new headline: "Guns Kill People, Video Games Don't"

And as usual, we have the "facts" to prove that title is correct.

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Paul Jace on 30th January 2013 11:51pm

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Show all comments (24)
Paul Johnson Managing Director / Lead code monkey, Rubicon Development5 years ago
To all Americans: Sorry, but your country is just plain fucked.

That people like this get elected says more about the voting majority than it does about any one political topic at hand. These talking heads are just doing their jobs and saying/doing what their electorate want them to.

If politicians know only one thing (likely), it's how their constituents feel, right or wrong. So it's no use sacking them, the next lot voted in will be more of the same. You need to educate the fuckwits.
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Darren Adams Managing Director, ChaosTrend5 years ago
Not that I am American, but I think the problem with any election is choice (or lack of it); it comes down to either voting for a nut job, an idiot or a slimy git. Of course you could just avoid voting altogether, but you will still end up with either a nut job, an idiot or a slimy git in power regardless.

Unfortunately self important assholes are generally drawn towards positions of power and the worst of the bunch usually end up being politicians.

Tru story bro!! :D
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Gary LaRochelle Digital Artist / UI/UX Designer / Game Designer, Flea Ranch Games5 years ago
"These talking heads are just doing their jobs and saying/doing what their electorate want them to."

It really doesn't work like that.
The talking heads do what the people/corporations who financially backed their campaigns want them to do. Not the people who voted for them. Politicians will say anything to get elected. But they will only do want their financial backers want then to do. If the NRA (National Rifle Association) gives you millions and gaming industry gives you nothing, who are you going to listen to/support?

@Darren: I've always wanted to have the option of voting for "none of the above". If no candidate gets more than 50% of the vote, the election is held over again and those who ran in that election can not run again. Though you are right about us having only the choice of voting for an idiot or a slimy git.
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I will sell all my consoles and games and BUY AN UZI!!! or an AK.
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Istvan Fabian Principal Engineer, Sony Computer Entertainment Europe5 years ago
It's not a matter of intelligence... it's a matter of bribery, kickbacks, and the arms industry paying for the elections. I think there is an euphemism for all of those: "lobbying"
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Konstantin Hohl5 years ago
I think this is starting to become a problem of political culture.

In europe digital natives etc. were mass portesting on the street when the likes of ACTA and co. were being pushed through the EU court. ACTA got stopped and digitally orientated parties quickly won a lot of new voters. Most importantly however the young and future voters sent the major parties the message that the web and digital media is one of their major political concerns and that they dont feel represented by the current politics...

Thats what needs to happen in the US, too. There are enough gamers out there to effectively demand a better representation of the parties. At the moment I mostly see US gamers feeling stigmatized and crying at home about those populist politicians. Democarcy requires active participation...

Edited 3 times. Last edit by Konstantin Hohl on 31st January 2013 12:55pm

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Jim Webb Executive Editor/Community Director, E-mpire Ltd. Co.5 years ago
Konstantin, that's supposedly what we have the ESA, ECA, ESRB, EFF, NCAC, the TLF and the Free Press group for. To speak on behalf of the people to lobby change and support for our causes.

You can't vote in a game supporting politician if no game supporting politicians are running for office.
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Steven Hodgson Programmer, Code in Progress Ltd5 years ago
If this turns out to be true, we should be all weary of North Korea's games program.
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Tom DuBois Digital, GameFly5 years ago
Let's run an experiment. Ship the same video games to countries all over the world, including countries that allow gun ownership and those that don't. Measure the results of gun violence. Wait - we've been doing this since games came out, plenty of data, no correlation.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Tom DuBois on 31st January 2013 4:58pm

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Andrzej Wroblewski Localization Generalist, Albion Localisations5 years ago
Seriously... if I'd have to say what is the problem -- it's politics that kill people, not guns, not video games. Politics that cause jobless or struggling parents to fail at teaching moral standards to their children -- and politics that show young minds the lowest moral standards possible all over the news.

Besides... take away violent games and see where this violence ends up venting.

I say: ban politics, ban the thievery "science" of marketing, ban derivatives.

For Pete's sake! What makes people crack? Video games? Guns? Which word fits the sentence: "I'm sick of X so much, I feel like killing someone!"?

His tweet should be "senilexander"... And name: Lamer.

Edited 3 times. Last edit by Andrzej Wroblewski on 31st January 2013 5:25pm

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Alan Wilson Vice President, Tripwire Interactive5 years ago
As a Brit who now lives in the USA, I've come to better understand the American stance on gun ownership - and the issues surrounding gun control. Far too many people die to gun deaths in this country - but only a small percentage of that number (with the shocking implications on the sheer scale of gun deaths here) is down to mass killings by the somewhat mad. And, even if you could persuade the Americans to give up their guns - HOW do you move from a country with roughly 1 gun per head of population to a more European view? Can't see it happening. BUT there is nothing to stop them increasing the background checks and trying to ensure that gun owners behave responsibly. Frankly, most genuinely responsible gun owners want to keep guns OUT of the hands of the deranged - and make people actually treat guns with respect. Like stop letting kids shoot their little brother when they find their parent's loaded 38 special and start to play with it.

That rant over: Paul has it 100% - I've never seen anyone killed with a video game. Probably actually very hard to do. Please don't try it at home, though. And Tom is right about that very basic correlation between number of video games sold and gun-related deaths. There isn't one.
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Adam Jordan Community Manager, Ubisoft5 years ago
I don't know...hit someone hard enough with a game case or throw a disc the right way and BAM ;)

I don't think "adopting" the European view upon gun control will do any good for the US. It's not exactly that they need. Don't forget most gun owners and even members of the NRA were appalled when they heard the PR statement made by the executives of the NRA, whom blamed video games for the Newton shooting.

In fact there are quite a few sensible and responsible gun owners out there, it's just sadly the idiots or the irresponsible that are dragging them through the mud.

As I mentioned previously, safety measures, "schooling" for gun owners or something that will alert them and make aware of what they are doing with their gun and how accessible their guns are to others should do the trick...after all, we (humanity in general) have laws that people must pass a theory test and a practical driving test before they are let out onto the road and there are laws that people must be of a certain age for alcohol and why not throw those things at the problem first and see how that is handled?

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Adam Jordan on 31st January 2013 7:57pm

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While video games can give you virtual adventures of violence, guns on a daily basis give you the feeling that you _really_ live in such a violent world. A world you should only find in video games and other fiction. Hearing pro gun people talk always reminds of a first person shooter game fantasy brought to the real life - everywhere you can find unlimited amounts of guns and ammunition as if there is a war going on.

When you can buy guns in walmart people will wonder, why you can do this. They will come to the conclusion, that solving conflicts with weapons is some kind of the norm, for what other reason would you need guns especially in urban areas?

Edited 4 times. Last edit by Christian Kulenkampff on 31st January 2013 9:53pm

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Paul Johnson Managing Director / Lead code monkey, Rubicon Development5 years ago
To those countering my argument about lobbyists buying politicians, and its not them acting on their own, a few points.

1) The lobbyists target only those politicians already friendly to the cause. You can lead a horse to water, etc.

2) Make lobbying illegal then. We've pretty much done that here and it wasn't even hard. I'm hardly holding up UK politics as a shining beacon of perfect democracy, but at least we don't actively allow and promote corruption as if it was normal.

3) If/while your fringe groups can buy key politicians, my original flamebait about the USA being fucked just got underlined and bolded. Not sure how this is offered as a rebuttle! :)
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Greg Wilcox Creator, Destroy All Fanboys! 5 years ago
Well, I currently own over 2000 games (and have owned probably close to three or four times that over the decades) and have been playing since 1972, so according to some politicians and TV pundits here, I must be quite ready to kill a few planets worth of people. Yeesh. This isn't a debate at all - it's trying to get one side to grow up and stop fighting everything that makes even the barest hint of common sense.
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Konstantin Hohl5 years ago
@ Jim:
Of course you can. If there is a big enough group / medial echo it will become more attractive for politicans to represent the group. Especially since you could win some voters over an issue that could be handled pretty easily once you are in the right position... If you only let industry representatives handle that matter the public (and therefore politicians)will not take that stements seriously since they expect that the industry defends its interests.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Konstantin Hohl on 1st February 2013 11:17am

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Gary LaRochelle Digital Artist / UI/UX Designer / Game Designer, Flea Ranch Games5 years ago
I agree 110% with your points #2 and #3. Spot on.

As for item #1: Why lobby a politician who already agrees with you? The job of a lobbyists is to try to get those politicians who are on the fence about a proposal to see the proposal the lobbyist's way. And if handing the politician a large sum of money (to help them get re-elected) will help convince the fence sitter to back you, then hand them some money.

Once a lobbyist has a politician in their pocket, the lobbyists can actually write the laws that the politician will introduce to the congress. My dad use to lobby for the Civil Engineers of America (CEA). The CEA wanted a law that required bridges to be inspected at least once every five years. The CEA actually wrote the law and then the politician presented it to congress.
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Adam Jordan Community Manager, Ubisoft5 years ago

Lol so true, I have played the likes of Mortal Kombat and Duke Nukem when I was 11 years old including watching movies full of blood, gore and violence. I am now 25, yet I have no criminal record, I have not intentionally hurt anyone and there have been two occasions I have handled guns both within a supervised environment, heck one of them was with the British Army when I was 15 and on work experience (Of course the gun had been deactivated and had all safety precautions on it)

And yet because of people like Mr. Alexander, I am getting painted with the same brush that they used to paint the nut jobs that have no moral compass.

Sad to say, I am aiming to try and move to America, yet even David Cameron is looking to be a saint at the moment and that's saying something!
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Greg Wilcox Creator, Destroy All Fanboys! 5 years ago
I keep watching the "news" here and save for a few occasions where a gamer gets a few words in before getting talked over or asked stupid-ass hypothetical questions, you NEVER see any gamers like me on TV who can explain (not argue, as these dumb opinion shows wants you to do) that games, books movies and music don't cause violence - the person with the killing thoughts is already messed up above the neck.

I wonder if John Hinckley or Mark David Chapman played video games or used them to "help" in their deeds? I'd bet not.
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Cameron Lourenco Studying Business Managemant, Conestoga College5 years ago
That a$$hole is a bought and paid for politician by the NRA. The NRA is desperately clinging to guns, and are as paranoid as it gets, pulling at as many straws as it can to try and distract people from the main issue - that anyone can buy a gun with almost no hassle, no training, no psychological evaluation, and 40% of the US doesn't even require so much as a background check. The rest of the developed world sees this as completely insane, and the biggest contributor to the problem of gun violence in the US.
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Preet Basson Train2Game Developer 5 years ago
I think the only person that got this right is Chris Rock. I dont think there should be gun control, I think there should be more bullet control.
Why is it that someone is always going to school to shoot people up, last I remember there has never been a game with schools and guns. Why is always america that this shit happens while the rest of world just deals with shit and moves on.
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