Having defeated President Obama’s quest to shoot holes in the Second Amendment, a GOP Leadership aide recently told the Huffington Post the House would soon spend time examining the link between link between video games and violence, essentially kicking off a campaign for “virtual gun control.” Make no mistake; the road to gun control and the road to virtual gun control leads to the same destination — restrictions on your liberty.
Part of the fallacy of gun control rests in the belief that in inanimate object can be responsible for the acts of the person in control of it. No one blames a car when a driver uses it irresponsibly, but when someone violates the law by using a gun to commit a crime, the gun control crowd holds the gun responsible. By denying responsible gun owners access to firearms, they argue, we will all be safer. No wonder Vice President Joe Biden could easily propose government restrictions to both gun ownership and video games. They are birds of the same feather.
The same line of reasoning is at play when people blame video games for acts of violence committed by people who are clearly not sane. “Call of Duty” or “Grand Theft Auto” did not cause Adam Lanza to commit the horrific acts at Sandy Hook elementary. Lanza had a long history of mental illness including bouts of Aspererger’s syndrome and other personality disorders. Details about Aaron Alexis are still emerging but he too had a documented history of mental illness and apparently left a note saying that low frequency radio waves made him do it. Yet some in the media have latched to the claims that these guys were addicted to playing video games as proof of some causal link. And obviously some politicos believe they can score points with an effort linking these acts, and others, to video games. But one must ask: to what end?
Video game playing has become mainstream. Millions of Americans, mostly adults, have joined the bandwagon. When Take Two Interactive released the newest version of the popular game Grand Theft Auto, they crossed the $1 billion sales mark in just three days. This is no longer a movement of computer geeks and nerds. Yet despite the proliferation of video games, violence in America has decreased at the same time.
Going mainstream hasn’t stopped gamers from being scapegoated. President Obama has demanded taxpayer money be used for a political study to establish a link between video games and violence. Despite dozens of privately funded studies, Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA), who has argued for government restrictions on guns, Hollywood movies, TV shows and video games, demanded that a government agency he oversees on the Appropriations Committee study the link. To keep in the good graces of the Chairman, they hired Psychologist Brad J. Bushman to do the study. Bushman has already produced studies linking the Bible to violent behavior so he was the perfect choice.
Would House Republicans be so naive as to join President Obama and propose “virtual gun control?” What would those control include? A waiting period to purchase “Call of Duty?” Bans on violent video games — bans that clearly violate the First Amendment of the Constitution?
This is all dangerous folly and a waste of taxpayers money. Video games do not cause violence just as guns do not cause violence. Before Republicans decide to waste time and resources on this effort, they would be smart to have an end-game.