Update – Post School Shooters Article

Thank you for all the support and encouragement, and thank you for all the dissent and disagreement. My hope in publishing this piece (or posting it on my blog) was to start a discussion. And that discussion is certainly taking place thanks to all of you.

I knew this was an important topic, and that’s why I was so frustrated that the Huffington Post chose not to publish my op-ed piece.  In the end, that’s all it was, an op-ed piece. My opinion on a topic.

To clear a few things up:

1. I never suggested that all violent video game players would become violent in real life. I did suggest that violent video game playing might be a major contributing factor in mass school shootings. I know that my evidence is anecdotal at best, but (fortunately) we do not have a large enough school shooter sample size to have anything other than anecdotal evidence in this case.

2. Many of my readers have written intelligently-phrased anecdotes of themselves playing video games and not becoming violent, but other readers have countered that video game violence blurs the line between reality and non-reality and makes real violence seem like a more viable option. I’m not sure which anecdotes are more valid. But I question whether any practiced violence is positive, especially for angry or mentally ill teenage boys. And again, why do any of us need to practice, simulate, or glorify violence in any form? What does that do for us as human beings? How does that make any of us into better people?

3. Some readers suggested that mass school shootings pre-dated video games, but that is false.  There were many school shootings in the late 18th, 19th, and early 20th centuries in the United States. Dozens of teachers were shot in front of their classrooms by disgruntled students.  But that is something entirely different. Mass shootings of fellow students or younger students by young male shooters is a newer phenomenon. And that phenomenon has become more common since the advent of violent video games.

4. Yes, we do have a gun problem in the United States. It is crazy that gun purchasers can circumvent gun shop laws and standard waiting periods by buying handguns at gun shows. That’s silly. That’s like allowing 13-year-olds to legally buy alcohol but only at the county fair.  Plus, assault rifles shouldn’t be available to anyone.  They’re called “assault rifles.” I know that many readers disagree with this point because they talk about the “right to bear arms,” the Second Amendment. But do those readers know the context of the creation of that amendment? Yes, if I had armed, foreign troops stationed in my home, and we had had multiple wars on our soil in the past 100 years, I might feel differently.  But I don’t, we haven’t, and the hypothetical “maybe it could happen” is not a strong argument.

Thanks to all of those who posted on Facebook, retweeted, and blogged in response. I read as much of that response material as I could, but responses got beyond me. Thank you for continuing the conversation.  Thank you for agreeing and disagreeing.  Keep it going.

– PBH

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