Everyone has a theory as to what is to blame for gun violence. Both sides of the debate have their favorite causes. For the anti-gunners it’s, obviously, guns. For those who disagree, there are a number of potential causes but when it comes to mass shootings, mental health is a favorite.
However, some on the pro-gun side have long blamed video games for gun violence of all stripes.
One of the latest to make that claim is Republican Rep. Ken Calvert of California.
“Extremely violent” video games and “a loss of religious concerns” contribute to gun violence and mass shootings and new gun laws are unlikely to stop mass shootings, Rep. Ken Calvert, R-Corona, said in a recent interview.
Speaking to Spectrum News 1, Calvert, the Inland Empire’s longest-serving congressman, threw cold water on more gun restrictions as the answer to a recent spate of mass shootings and gun-related deaths that killed almost 40,000 Americans in 2017, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“It seems like the cost of human life, it’s not just mass shootings, what’s going on in Chicago, what’s going on in Los Angeles is, I think, a loss of religious concerns,” said Calvert, whose district includes Eastvale, Norco, Corona, Menifee, Wildomar, Lake Elsinore, Murrieta and part of Temecula.
“I think these video games are extremely violent. There’s a number of things that are happening with our culture that we ought to look at also and I think has much more of an effect on what’s happening in our society today.”
“My views on guns and violence are shaped by my experiences and the feedback I receive from both the gun-owning and non-gun-owning constituents I represent,” Calvert wrote in the email.
“However, I do not think stripping the rights of law-abiding citizens and confiscating guns, as some on the left have proposed, does anything to solve mass shootings. Outlawing the possession of weapons would only ensure that criminals have guns, while law-abiding citizens are left defenseless.”
Now, there’s a problem with this whole “blame videogames” thing, and that’s it doesn’t track with reality.
We have correctly pointed out that in the 1990s, around the time that gun laws began being liberalized at the state level, crime rates began to drop. They continued through the era of the assault weapon ban and beyond, suggesting that if access to guns was a problem, we should see the opposite of that.
We’ve been right to do so.
However, the flip side is what else was going on within our culture at the same time, and that’s the rise of violent video games.
From the moment the video game Doom was blamed for Columbine, such games have made a wonderful scapegoat for violence of all kinds. However, if they were the culprit as Calvert suggests then one would expect to see a correlation in the violent crime rate. We see no such evidence. On the contrary, we have a steady decrease in both the violent crime rate and the murder rate.
Look, I get trying to look for something to blame for the mass shootings this past year. I seriously do. It’s troubling to an extreme.
However, we’re not doing ourselves any favors if we present a culprit that can be disproven with the exact same data we use to prove liberalization of carry laws has been a benefit to society. All we’re doing is making ourselves look stupid.