Today during a meeting on school safety at the White House, U.S. President Donald Trump suggested that violent video games are partly responsible for school shootings.
His train of thought was hard to follow—as it often is—so here’s the full comment:
“We have to look at the internet, because a lot of bad things are happening to young kids and young minds, and their minds are being formed, and we have to do something about maybe what they’re seeing and how they’re seeing it. And also video games. I’m hearing more and more people say the level of violence on video games is really shaping young people’s thoughts. And you go one further step and that’s the movies. You see these movies, and they’re so violent, a kid is able to see the movie if sex isn’t involved, but killing is involved, and maybe we need to put a rating system for that.”
Blaming video games for gun violence isn’t anything new for Trump who, after the Sandy Hook shooting in 2012, tweeted, “Video game violence & glorification must be stopped—it is creating monsters!” His comments also echo those made by other Republican politicians, including the governor of Kentucky, who said last week on a radio talk show that violent video games were responsible for desensitizing people to the value of human life. It’s a familiar scapegoat many of us have been hearing for decades, one which often acts like a smokescreen to deflect responsibility away from the Second Amendment and lax gun laws.
The last major attempt to try and regulate violent video games came in the form of a 2005 California law backed by then Democratic assemblyman Leland Yee. It sought to criminalize the sale of violent games to minors, but was blocked from taking effect when groups like the ESA and Entertainment Merchants Association sued. The law was then eventually eventually shot down by the Supreme Court which found that it violated the First Amendment.
Last week’s Parkland, Florida school shooting that killed 17 and wounded many others has reignited the debate around gun control with a new sense of urgency. Yesterday Trump met with students and parents of victims at the White House to discuss the issue, a meeting in which he suggested the possibility of arming teachers. He’s since tried to walk those comments back.
“I will be strongly pushing Comprehensive Background Checks with an emphasis on Mental Health. Raise age to 21 and end sale of Bump Stocks! Congress is in a mood to finally do something on this issue - I hope!” he tweeted earlier today.
Today’s hour-long meeting with state and local officials from Florida also resulted in some strange moments. In addition to the President’s short rant about video games, the internet, and some apparent misconceptions about how movies are rated, he also suggested that the solution to gun violence in schools requires “offensive measures within these schools.”
“Unless you’re going to have offensive capability you’re wasting your time,” he said, before once again saying that maybe teachers with concealed weapons would be a more cost effective approach than hiring lots of security guards.