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Research contradicts claim that violent video games share blame for mass shootings

Young man playing video game
Sean Do
President Trump has claimed violent video games are partly responsible for mass shootings, but WMU Prof. Whitney DeCamp says research doesn't support that claim.


Two deadly mass shootings occurred within 24 hours of one another this weekend — one in El Paso, Texas and the other in Dayton, Ohio. Thirty-one people have died from their injuries so far. 

Some Republicans, including President Donald Trump, have argued that violent video games are partially to blame for the violence. 

“We must stop the glorification of violence in our society. This includes the gruesome and grisly video games that are now commonplace," Trump said Monday during public remarks addressing the violence in El Paso and Dayton. 

Whitney DeCamp is a professor of sociology at Western Michigan University. He researches the connection between violence and video games. DeCamp says his research has found that playing violent video games does not contribute to real-life violence.

Instead, DeCamp says, it comes from seeing violence within the home and community. 

“I think those comments ignore the fact that we already have a lot of evidence on this topic. And that evidence is pointing to a pretty solid ‘no’ on video games being the cause of real life violence,” he said.

DeCamp says that politicians who blame video games are looking for a scapegoat. In the case of El Paso, the suspected shooter released a racist and anti-immigrant manifesto prior to inflicting mass carnage. 

“We can see specifically that it’s hateful rhetoric that’s directed at immigrants and racial and ethnic minorities that’s been a large motivating factor there,” Decamp said. “But it’s a convenient way to change the discussion away from other issues that might be more controversial and harder to deal with, like the issue of gun availability, mental health, and hateful rhetoric that is out there.” 

It's easier, DeCamp says, to blame video games for gun violence because it doesn’t require any immediate change. Video games are protected under the First Amendment, which means regulating their content would require an amendment to the Constitution. 

This post was written by Stateside production assistant Catherine Nouhan.

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