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‘It’s Not The Guns’: Kentucky Governor Says Video Games Are to Blame For School Shootings


‘It’s Not The Guns’: Kentucky Governor Says Video Games Are to Blame For School Shootings

As the nation struggles to make sense of the horrific mass shooting that took place at a high school in Parkland, Florida this week, Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin called for the nation to consider restrictions on violence in video games and movies, not guns.

On Wednesday, 17 people were killed in the latest mass shooting in the U.S., a scenario that has become all too familiar to anyone who reads the American news. Now that the obligatory genuflection at the altar of thoughts and prayers has been completed, conservative pundits and politicians around the country have moved on to the next step in the uniquely American ritual of gun violence: casting about for scapegoats that can bear the terrible weight of blame for these crimes — particularly those that have nothing to do with guns.

Mental illness has become a convenient talking point for NRA-backed Republicans, despite the fact that mentally ill people are responsible for only a tiny fraction of gun violence — and are far more likely to experience violence than to commit it. And now Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin has reached down into the political grab bag of scapegoats to pin the blame on another familiar boogeyman: video games.

In an interview on the Leland Conway show on Thursday, Bevin says that “guns are not the problem.

“We need to have an honest conversation as to what should and should not be allowed in the United States as it relates to the things being put in the hands of our young people,” Bevin explained.

What shouldn’t be put in the hands of young people? Violent video games and movies, Bevin said.

“I’m a big believer in the First Amendment and right to free speech, but there are certain things that are so graphic as it relates to violence, and things that are so pornographic on a whole another front that we allow to pass under the guise of free speech, which arguably are,” Bevin said. “But there is zero redemptive value. There is zero upside to any of this being in the public domain, let alone in the minds and hands and homes of our young people.”

Since taking office two years ago, Bevin has often lashed out at calls for gun control in the wake of shootings. “You can’t regulate evil,” Bevin tweeted in the wake of the Las Vegas shootings.

MAR-15-style rifles have been used in multiple mass shootings in recent years, including the high school shooting in Parkland, Florida.

Bevin, however, sees the spree of shootings as a cultural problem, not a firearm problem. And he sees violent entertainment as the root of that cultural problem.

“Go back before any of this existed,” Bevin said. “How many children walked into other schools and slaughtered other children? What more evidence do you need? The people who say there is no evidence are full of crap.”

But Bevin wouldn’t say what he thinks the threshold should be for too much violence in entertainment.

When Conway asked whether he would support a ban on violent video games, Bevin does not respond directly but instead poses a question of his own: “Why do we need a video game, for example, that encourages people to kill people?”

One could — and should — ask the same question about semi-automatic and automatic weapons whose sole function is to kill as many people as possible. It is nothing short of a tragedy that too many of our politicians never will.

While studies on the link between violent games and aggression are inconclusive, declaring that the imaginary bullets of video games are more dangerous than actual bullets that tear apart the bodies of their victims requires an Olympian level of mental gymnastics — but one that becomes necessary when more obvious conclusions are considered politically untenable.

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