The United States is still in shock following two deadly mass shootings in Texas and Ohio. A lone shooter, identified by authorities as a 21-year old white male, opened fire inside a Walmart store in El Paso, Texas killing 20 people. Thirteen hours later, another mass shooting was reported in Dayton, Ohio, killing nine. Police are treating the El Paso shooting as an act of “domestic terrorism.” President Donald Trump is blaming the internet and violent video games for the increasing wave of gun violence in the country, saying during a press briefing at the White House:
“We must stop the glorification of violence in our society. This includes gruesome grisly video games that are now commonplace.”
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick share the same sentiment. McCarthy reportedly told Fox News:
“But the idea of these video games that dehumanize individuals to have a game of shooting individuals and others – I’ve always felt that is a problem for future generations and others.”
It’s not the first time the President is blaming the internet and violent video games for mass shootings. Donald Trump also linked the internet, video games, and extreme movies to gun violence after the deadly Parkland, Fla. shooting that left 17 dead.
There isn’t a lot of research that shows exposure to violent video games causes gun violence or any violent behavior. On the contrary, most research available on this subject has debunked this myth over and over again. For instance, an Oxford University study, published earlier this year, found no correlation between exposure to violent video games and gun violence.
Research conducted by the Secret Service and the U.S. Department of Education in 2004 is a bit more dated but also found no link between violent video games and mass shootings. According to the report, only 12% of perpetrators in more than 35 mass shootings in the U.S. had shown any interest in video games.
This myth is not applicable outside the U.S., either. In Japan, for example, where 60% of the population played video games in 2016, gun-related deaths per 100,000 citizens were almost zero. Japan has strict gun laws. Buying, selling, processing, or carrying rifles and handguns is banned. In comparison, exposure to violent video games is relatively lower in the U.S. compared to Japan. In 2015, 49% of all American adults played video games, and yet over 36,000 gun-related deaths were reported during the same period.
President Trump’s comments, despite conflicting with our research, were felt in the market during Monday’s trading. Stocks of major video game companies reported significant declines after the remarks. Activision Blizzard Inc. ATVI was down 6.1%. Take-Two Interactive Software Inc. TTWO dropped 6.3%. Electronic Arts EA was also in the red, down 4.6%.