National Rifle Association blames video games (among others) for Newtown tragedy

NRA logo

In a half-hour-long press conference delivered this morning (exactly one week since the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT), the National Rifle Association claimed that the incident was caused not by an overabundance of firearms, but instead by the prevalence of violent video games in American society, as well as violent movies and even music videos. Further, NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre stated that the only way we can hope to avoid further mass shootings like the tragedy that occurred at Newtown is not to remove the average citizen’s ability to acquire a gun, but instead to ensure that other, hypothetically “better” citizens are able to arm themselves as they (and the NRA) sees fit.

national rifle association blames games for newtown tragedy wayne lapierre“The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun,” LaPierre said. “The only way — the only way — to stop a monster from killing our kids is to be personally involved and invested in a plan for protection.” In an effort to convince Congress of the plan, the NRA has set up a website with the express purpose of installing armed security guards in schools, churches, and any other place where large groups of normally peaceful people congregate.

“What if, when Adam Lanza  [Newtown, Connecticut shooter] started shooting his way into Sandy Hook Elementary School, he was confronted by qualified armed security? 26 innocent lives might have been spared that day,” LaPierre said. “With all the foreign aid … with all the money in federal budget … can’t we afford to put a police officer in every school?” Of course, LaPierre fails to mention that a number of America’s most notable mass shootings occurred in places where armed guards were already stationed, including Columbine High School and Texan military base Fort Hood. The hypocrisy here is thick enough to absorb hundreds of rounds from even the most powerful assault rifle.

Given the broad, largely bipartisan outcry spawned by the Newtown incident, in which most cite the shooting as a long-overdue admonition that America’s laws regarding gun ownership and availability need intense, rational scrutiny, the NRA’s claims ring undeniably controversial. LaPierre, realizing this, stated that the NRA waited this long to release its commentary out of respect for the victims. The group was attempting to remain “respectfully silent” during this time, LaPierre said, before two protesters interrupted his speech, prompting LaPierre to prematurely and abruptly end the press conference.

national rifle association blames games for newtown tragedy nra protests

Of course, he didn’t leave the podium without pointing out what he believes is the true culprit behind this event and other mass shootings that have been cropping up, on average, every four months over the past decade. According to LaPierre and by association the NRA, video games, specifically violent video games, drove Adam Lanza to enter Sandy Hook on the morning of December 14 and open fire on two dozen-plus victims, the majority of whom were young children, the NRA believes. “Another little dirty secret the media tries to conceal [is] a callous corrupt and disgusting shadow industry … vicious violent video games,” LaPierre said before categorizing these games and violent films as “the filthiest form of pornography.”

“… there’s the blood-soaked slasher films like American Psycho and Natural Born Killers that are aired like propaganda loops on ‘Splatterdays’ and every day, and a thousand music videos that portray life as a joke and murder as a way of life.”

Whether you’re inclined to side with LaPierre and the NRA or not is entirely up to you. America’s Constitutionally guaranteed free speech ensures that, just as it protects all forms of video games. However, there are a number of politically neutral scientific studies which refute LaPierre’s statements. A report published earlier this year by the American Psychological Association found no evidence of a tangible link between exposure to violent media (specifically video games) and violent tendencies. It also states that the researchers found no evidence tying violent games to feelings of aggression, hostlity and suicidal/homicidal depression.

Echoing these claims is another 2012 study (.pdf) published by the Journal of Youth and Adolescence which finds no link between real-world violence and violent video games. Instead, the report claims, these sorts of games can actually improve a player’s cognitive abilities, particularly in the areas of visuospatial recognition, math and physics.

Yet another recent study that was focused on the nature of IQs concluded that “People who play video games performed ‘significantly better’ in terms of both reasoning and short-term memory.”

national rifle association blames games for newtown tragedy nra gun clubAs something of an intriguing, suddenly topical aside to this issue, the NRA’s crusade against violent video games stands in direct contrast to the group’s other most notable involvement in the gaming industry. As The Escapist points out, in 2006 the NRA teamed with developer Jarhead Games and publisher Crave Entertainment to create NRA Gun Club, a first-person shooter available for the PlayStation 2 that while objectively terrible exists purely to promote the NRA’s safe, largely target-shooting-focused belief in how legitimate gun owners should act. LaPierre made no mention of this title, nor the NRA’s involvement in the development of the project, during this morning’s press conference.

For that matter, LaPierre also failed to mention the role that America’s deficient attempts at making mental health care readily available to its citizens may have played in the Newtown shooting. Then again, with only half an hour to cover all of the NRA’s talking points, perhaps LaPierre simply forgot that his group was more than willing to utilize the popularity of video games and the first-person shooter genre as a whole at a time when it seemed politically convenient. 


Everything we know about 'Anthem', including new details on Javelin classes

BioWare announced an upcoming action role-playing game called 'Anthem' at EA Play 2017. Here's everything we know about the game so far, including gameplay, DLC, and when you'll be able to play it.

Feeling nostalgic? Here are the 25 best Sega Genesis games

Although the company has since fallen into obscurity, Sega was an indisputable titan throughout the '90s. That said, here are 25 best Sega Genesis games that helped define its fabled decade.
Movies & TV

The best shows on Netflix, from 'The Haunting of Hill House’ to ‘The Good Place’

Looking for a new show to binge? Lucky for you, we've curated a list of the best shows on Netflix, whether you're a fan of outlandish anime, dramatic period pieces, or shows that leave you questioning what lies beyond.
Home Theater

The best movies on Netflix in November, from 'The Witch’ to ‘Dracula’

Save yourself from hours wasted scrolling through Netflix's massive library by checking out our picks for the streamer's best movies available right now, whether you're into explosive action, witty humor, or anything else.

Fortnite Guides

Tips and tricks, challenges guides, user guide, and more Fortnite: Battle Royale is a mode that’s constantly changing and evolving over time. With each new season comes new challenges, weapons, vehicles, and limited time modes. Battle…


Our full coverage Fortnite from Epic Games first arrived on PC as an early access game in 2017. Featuring a mode called Save the World, players could jump online with a group of friends to collect resources, build structures, and defend…
Product Review

‘Battlefield V’ shows up late for battle, but it's still unprepared

Battlefield V’s War Stories give us a new perspective on World War II, but the game’s lack of polish across both its campaign and multiplayer modes are almost impossible to ignore.

The best cheap-but-awesome PS4 game deals under $20

The PlayStation 4 has hit its stride in recent years and is now more affordable than ever. If you have a PS4 or are thinking of buying one, we’ve collected some must-have games. The best part? Each of these is just $20 or less.

Black Friday 2018: The best deals so far

Black Friday is the biggest shopping holiday of the year, and it will be here before you know it. If you can't wait until November 23 to start formulating a shopping plan, we've got you covered.

‘Final Fantasy XV’ mod remembers the RPG’s canceled DLC and features

A Final Fantasy XV mod pays homage to the content canceled by Square Enix. Episodes Aranea, Luna, and Noctis will no longer happen, while the promised level-building tool and Mod Organizer improvements for the PC version were also shelved.

Owners of ROM sites ordered to pay Nintendo more than $12 million

An federal court judge in Arizona has awarded Nintendo more than $12 million in damages in its lawsuit with the owners of two popular ROM websites. The sites must also be transferred to Nintendo's control.

‘PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds’ parachutes onto PlayStation 4 on December 7

Following months of speculation, PUBG Corp. has announced that PUBG is coming to PS4 on December 7. The PS4 version includes all three maps and major features, and you can get some PlayStation-themed apparel items by pre-ordering.

Struggling to survive 'Battlefield 5?' Our boot camp will keep you in the fight

Battlefield V's multiplayer component can be overwhelming, but you can succeed against the enemy with a little help. These are the tips and tricks you need to know to win in Battlefield V.

What games were nominated for the The Game Awards 2018? Find out here

The Game Awards returns to Los Angeles for its fifth show this December. Here is everything we know about the event, including its location, where you can watch it, and games that were nominated.