Gun Rights

Violent Video Games, Mass Shootings and Mental Health

The Second Amendment

(Photo Credit: Fox News)

As Dr. Patrick Markey, Associate Professor of Psychology at Villanova University, recently disclosed on CNN, no empirical research evinces that playing violent video games leads to real-world violence. Although researchers should continue to investigate any potential connections between violent video games and violence in society, we shouldn’t get distracted by the most important issue we should be focused on concerning the recent mass shootings: mental health.  Even though all of the most recent mass shooters covered in the national media devoted significant time to playing violent video games, all of them had serious mental health issues that were not addressed.

While it seems that the divisive national debate about gun control and gun rights is dominating our attention, we need to dedicate more attention to mental health.  We need to make greater efforts to ensure that those with mental health problems do not get their hands on guns, and we need to provide them with the critical mental health services they warrant.

If we really desire to make America safer, then we won’t simply have discourses about how to reduce the number of guns in the hands of Americans; we will have meaningful discussions about how to decrease the likelihood of the mentally ill getting their hands on guns.  It’s time to get real about guns—not overly emotional.  Guns in the hands of mentally healthy Americans save lives.  The Second Amendment guarantees Americans the fundamental right to protect themselves with guns.  Knee-jerk reactions to recent mass shootings shouldn’t lead to diminishing the freedoms safeguarded by the Second Amendment.

It’s probably a good idea for parents to prevent their children from watching violent movies and television programs for exorbitant amounts of time, and it’s probably a good idea to keep your children from playing violent video games for an abnormal number of hours.  Adults should be aware of the number of hours they give to watching violent television programs and movies as well.  For those adults who play violent video games, reflect on the impact that this video game playing may have on you.  We have to be more responsible about the things we allow ourselves and children to consume, considering those phenomena could have negative impacts on us that go undetected.

Let’s not give violent television programming, movies, and video games too much credit for the recent mass shootings, however.

Our efforts to reduce the number of mass shootings should be concentrated on addressing mental health issues, preventing the mentally ill from obtaining guns, and ensuring that those who aren’t mentally ill are able to get guns to defend themselves and others from those who would attempt to engage in mass shootings.

Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Advertisements