Let’s say that a link between violent videogames and real-life violence is scientifically proven.

(re: this and anyone else pretending to give equal consideration to the idea that it’s videogames’ fault that crazy people shoot other people in meatspace.) Purely for the sake of argument, pretend that some peer-reviewed study is published proving that exposure to violence in videogames increases the likelihood of manifestation of homicidal tendencies in individuals having certain pre-existing mental illnesses. (Someone proving that “Call of Duty” turns otherwise sane people into school shooters seems so far-fetched as to not even be imaginable.) So what? What’s the endgame of that? What public policy change would be made possible by scoring that rhetorical point? Would we get a controlled-substance-esque enforced age requirement for purchase of any game in which the player shoots things? Background checks? An outright ban on the sale of such games? Would we get Congress to issue an injunction, instantly stopping production of big-budget titles currently in development for every game publisher? Of course not. Doing so would curtail free speech, and would be tantamount to canceling culture. Thank God that the only Right in the Bill that seems to trump the 2nd is the 1st. Our art (and games are most assuredly art) has always engaged in violence, and sex, and the other icky stuff that defines the human experience, whether or not the prudes want to acknowledge it. These debates are almost never framed in terms of what actionable outcomes might emerge from them, and it drives me batty. I’m all for further inquiry into the causes of these tragic events, but–actually, you know what? No I’m not. I personally believe that there’s not much more to know beyond what we already do: Some people are crazy. Sometimes sane people act crazy when under extreme duress. In those moments of raised adrenaline and lowered inhibition, people do things they later regret. PRO TIP: With increased portability and magazine size comes increased capacity for regret. NPR et al, what are we doing paying lip service to studying media’s effects on consumers as a solution to the epidemic of gun violence? Just jerking around, filling the news cycle and waiting for a new shiny/bloody object to catch our attention, huh? Presenting this research as if we might crack some code that will allow us to eradicate mental illness in our society is disingenuous. You can’t ban crazy. You know what we actually could ban, though, if we wanted to? I’ll let you guess. (Hint: they go bang, fit in one’s pants, and hold dozens of hollow points.) Either we decide that a few schoolchildren are, on balance, worth sacrificing for the warm fuzzy glow of a Founders’ outdated ideal–and we have decided that, up to this point–or we sack up and acknowledge that of the two salient ingredients to gun violence (guns & people), the one we have more control over are the guns.

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