Lets Talk: Trump, Guns, and Video Games

Mass shootings have escalated over the past few years. Our president is blaming video games and mental health for the increase in gun violence, but has he done his research? I have, and I'm here to tell you why he’s wrong.

It saddens me that after many mass shootings since President Trump's reign, not to mention the most recent act of terrorisom in El Paso Texas where a white male shot and killed 22 people while injuring another 24, is blamed on yet again mental illness, and...video games. As someone who studies Psychology, I have learned time and time again that those who struggle with a mental illness are more likely to hurt themselves before they hurt those around them. I understand that  President Trump is trying to find a reason for mass shootings more valid than “they did it just because,” but to marginalize those who struggle with mental illnesses by blaming gun violence on mental health can create a stereotype or stigma around those who struggle with these illnesses.

Now video games, I have played them most of my life, in fact I know a lot of people who play them daily -- would I put the blame on them for acts of terrorism? No. Were the shooters in these many incidents of gun violence proven to have played video games consistently? Is this the answer for America? To ban Xboxes? When Trump linked video games to mass shootings, I couldn’t help but wonder if this was one of those mistaken tweets that we all wish we could unsee or if he actually meant it, but considering that he said this live in an interview...sadly, I can’t blame it on his Twitter.

 

I'm here to correct the misinformation spread by both ideas. Perpetuating a made-up myth that mental illness is the cause of mass shootings only serves to stigmatize the mentally ill even further. Mental illness cannot be lumped into one distinct disorder with a set of symptoms that definitely leads to violence, there are a variety of different mental illnesses. Believing that mental illness causes mass shootings can feel reassuring -- it might be comforting to believe than only a small population of very distrubed people could do something so awful. However, there has been evidence that suggest those with a mental illness only cause a very small fraction of mass shootings, and even if some shooters have an undiagnosed mental illness, there is no evidence to show that a prior diagnosis would increase their chances of being involved with acts of terrorism. 

Trump's video games hypothesis also fails to hold water when held up against the evidence. The American Psychological Association concluded that violent video game exposure was linked to increased aggressive behaviors, thoughts, and emotions, as well as decreased empathy. With that being said, it is not clear whether violent video game exposure was linked to crimes or delinquency. Video game experiments often have people playing a game for as little as ten minutes, which is not representative of how games are played in real life. Thus, there's little scientific evidence to support the connection between video games and violene, and to blame video games for mass shootings is highly misleading. 

 

Trump, who is speaking to millions of Americans, is creating a harmful stigma and still not addressing the problem. Pushing the idea that mass shootings all stemming from video games and mental illness doesn't address our country's very real problem with gun violence. How many lives need to be lost to see the change?

If you are interested in further educating yourself on this topic, here are some links below:

https://behavioralscientist.org/myth-mental-illness-causes-mass-shootings/

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/darwins-subterranean-world/201802/mental-health-and-school-shootings

https://time.com/5645747/gun-violence-mental-illness/

https://www.engadget.com/2018/03/07/video-game-violence-trump-meeting-esa-nra/?guccounter=1&guce_referrer=aHR0cHM6Ly93d3cuYmluZy5jb20vc2VhcmNoP3E9dmlkZW8rZ2FtZXMrZG8rbm90K2NhdXNlK3Zpb2xlbmNlJnFzPUFTJnBxPXZpZGVvK2dhbWVzK2RvK25vdCtjYXVzZSt2aW9sJnNjPTgtMjkmY3ZpZD1GNThGN0Y1OEQ4MTQ0QTdBQTYxODJBOTRDNTc1OEY2OCZGT1JNPVFCUkUmc3A9MQ&guce_referrer_sig=AQAAAAHh5Yynl1nQirSiTpui3a5NZTOc7MyyqouHXGl6XuaAqLQVxbaHILe8SjK8UBi-8jIYcU6XTw0XSwiyc3Ak4El7DWhWdSXkmIGGCr3ypP9hIC7UjmYsu0damaAIm92aFojpvCOnlOoBgyWc161RQu12gyq3YiqBj66b4UaSGJ-o