Donald Trump says he will 'do something' to stop danger of violent video games

President says legislators must tackle issue 'shaping young people's minds' in wake of Florida school massacre but declines to go into specifics

Joe Sommerlad
Monday 26 February 2018 12:39
Donald Trump blames video games and movies for violent acts

US President Donald Trump has said America's legislators must "do something" to tackle the issue of violence in video games.

Speaking at a White House meeting of local and state officials on security in the aftermath of the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, the President criticised gaming culture and the ease with which young people can see films featuring graphic violence and bloodshed.

"We have to look at the Internet because a lot of bad things are happening to young kids and young minds and their minds are being formed, and we have to do something about maybe what they’re seeing and how they’re seeing it," he said.

"I’m hearing more and more people say the level of violence on video games is really shaping young people’s thoughts. And you go the further step, and that’s the movies. You see these movies, and they’re so violent. And yet a kid is able to see the movie if sex isn’t involved, but killing is involved, and maybe they have to put a rating system for that."

Video games already carry age restrictions in the US and are subjected to a rigorous certification process, as they are in the UK.

President Trump declined to go into further specifics about what measures might be undertaken to address concerns.

Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin has also been outspoken on the subject in the wake of the Florida shooting on 14 February, in which gunman Nikolas Cruz when on a rampage and killed 17 students with an AR-15 semi-automatic assault rifle.

As America wrestles with the gun control debate once more and questions the future of the Second Amendment, Bevin said violent games "celebrated death" and "celebrate the slaughter of people".

"They have desensitised people to the value of human life, to the dignity of women, to the dignity of human decency. We're reaping what we've sown here," he said.

Gamers have been quick to accuse politicians of scapegoating the entertainment industry rather than tackling the influence of the National Rifle Association (NRA) and America's influential gun lobby.

Parkland survivor Chris Grady described President Trump's response to the tragedy as "a really pathetic excuse" in an interview with CNN's Wolf Blitzer.

"I grew up playing video games - you know Call of Duty, all those kind of first-person shooter games - and I would never, ever dream of taking the lives of any of my peers," he said.

The debate about violent video games has been raised before, with the state of California moving to restrict their sale in 2005. The US Supreme Court rejected the move in 2011.

"Video games qualify for First Amendment protection. Like protected books, plays, and movies, they communicate ideas through familiar literary devices and features distinctive to the medium. And the basic principles of freedom of speech… do not vary with a new and different communication medium," Justice Antonin Scalia said in his ruling at the time.

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