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Here’s a Video the Trump Administration Made to Try and Show How Video Games Encourage Gun Violence

Microsoft Xbox video game controllers (Credit: THOMAS SAMSON/AFP/Getty Images)

Thanks to the tireless activism of the Parkland shooting survivors, which builds on the years of activism from groups like Everytown for Gun Safety and Black Lives Matter, gun control has back been in the national conversation. However, despite some shockingly promising initial statements from Trump, the White House has shown little interest in standing up to the NRA in order to defend Americans from gun deaths. Instead, they’ve decided to pivot to blaming … video games.

As part of this pivot, the White House posted an unlisted compilation of video game violence to the official White House YouTube channel, where it’s been viewed more than 950,000 times. The video includes clips from M-rated games like Fallout 4Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, and Wolfenstein: The New Order, and it was reportedly played during a private Thursday meeting between legislators and game industry executives, critics, and other stakeholders. Trump reportedly said of the video, “This is violent, isn’t it?” at the meeting.

You can view the video here, but be warned that it contains graphic, violent footage from video games. The footage is undeniably grisly, and as entertainment critics, we at TMS do believe that the art and media we consume can affect our worldview. But the idea that video games, rather than America’s dangerously easy access to firearms, can be blamed as the cause of mass shootings is offensive and ridiculous.

Admittedly, there are some correlations between video game exposure and “aggressive behavior.” (Correlation is still not causation, though.) The American Psychological Association (APA) issued a resolution on violent video games in 2015 which reviewed more than a decade of scientific research, and they concluded that “the link between violent video game exposure and aggressive behavior is one of the most studied and best established.” However, they were careful to clarify that “not all aggression is violence,” that some studies also find positive behavior correlated with video game use, and that “insufficient research has examined whether violent video game use causes lethal violence.” As a result, they called for further research.

Furthermore, the Society for Media Psychology and Technology, a division of the APA, “advises policy makers, community officials, and news media not to attribute or insinuate blame for acts of violence on video games or other fictional media.” [Emphasis mine.] In a 2017 statement, they wrote: “Journalists and policy makers do their constituencies a disservice in cases where they link acts of real-world violence with the perpetrators’ exposure to violent video games or other violent media. There’s little scientific evidence to support the connection, and it may distract us from addressing those issues that we know contribute to real-world violence.” While this division does not represent the official policy of the entire APA (the 2015 resolution does), their message is pretty clear.

Trevor Noah previously mocked the Trump administration’s suggestions about mass shootings and video game use, and this sensationalized, cherry-picked video feels like yet another distraction from the issue of gun control. As Noah said, “The truth is, many countries around the world have figured this out. The most effective and realistic way to limit gun violence is to regulate who has access to guns.”

(via Deadline; image: THOMAS SAMSON/AFP/Getty Images)

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