In a segment aired on US news channel Fox News earlier today, the House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and the Lieutenant Governor of Texas (also a Republican) Dan Patrick both mentioned how video games played a direct role in the two most recent mass shootings in the US.
In each segment, both the commentators and the news anchor drew a link between violent video games and the young men who play them, and how they were responsible for inspiring mass shooters.
As it turns out, video games appear to have had no part to play in inspiring the shooter of this most recent mass shooting. Instead, the mass shooter was inspired by racism and white supremacy, and published a tract online claiming that his intention was to kill as many "invaders" as possible, and specifically stated in his manifesto that the attack was a response to "the Hispanic invasion of Texas."
Here's the video clip of Fox News trying to blame video games.
clip here -- it's very much jumping off Tx. Lt. Gov Dan Patrick's comments to F&F earlier pic.twitter.com/J8PqvNtvz0
— John Whitehouse (@existentialfish) August 4, 2019
Af El Paso mass shooting, Fox News anchor tries to link video games to mass shootings. pic.twitter.com/hdkjwbgbU1
— John Whitehouse (@existentialfish) August 3, 2019
This isn't the first time that Fox News has specifically blamed video games for mass shootings carried out by white supremacists. In 2013 during the Washington Navy Yard mass shooting, Fox News tried to claim that video games were responsible. In 2018, parroting Donald Trump's claims about the Parkland shooting, Fox News again claimed the video games were responsible for mass shootings carried out by white supremacists.
Here are the facts.
In Ireland and the UK, video games account for an approximate revenue of close to $5 billion per annum, nearly five times that amount in the US. In 2016, the video game industry in Ireland was estimated to be worth €244 million. The same games that are available here in Ireland and the UK are nearly always available in the US.
In Ireland, between 2005 and 2015, a total of 207 people were killed by firearms. Eight months into 2019, there have been 8,734 deaths by firearms in the US.
What's the difference between Ireland and the US, other than population sizes? Simple. Ireland has strict gun control laws.
In Ireland, firearms are monitored heavily and personal protection as a reason for owning one is outlawed. Not only that, every firearm has to be licenced and is only issued after extensive background checks by Gardaí.
In the US, gun control laws are lax at best. In a significantly large number of mass shootings, the weapons and ammunition carried by the shooter was bought legally.
Extensive studies have proven that there is a clear link between the prevalence of guns and gun violence in the US. A study conducted earlier this year by researchers from Columbia, New York University, Boston University, and the University of Pennsylvania concluded that in states where there are weak gun laws, mass shootings are more common.
Likewise, research has consistently found that there is no correlation between violent video games and violent individuals. What has also been found is that since Donald Trump has ascended to the office of President, there has been a consistent uptick in hate crimes reported in the US.
So, which is really to blame for the latest mass shooting in the US? Normalised racism and a lack of gun control, or video games?