NRA links violent media to mass shootings, but researchers are skeptical
By Dan Zak
Blood. Gore. Intense violence.
These are three “content descriptors” shared by four video games cited by the head of the National Rifle Association as evidence that the American media as a whole — not individual ownership of assault weapons — encourages a culture of violence that occasionally manifests as mass shootings like the one in Newtown, Conn., on Dec. 14.
“There exists in this country a callous, corrupt and corrupting shadow industry that sells, and sows, violence against its own people — through vicious, violent video games with names like ‘Bulletstorm,’ ‘Grand Theft Auto,’ ‘Mortal Kombat’ and ‘Splatterhouse,’ ” NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre said Friday in Washington at a morning news conference, the first public statement by the association since the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
All four video games do exhibit “blood and gore” and “intense violence,” according to the Entertainment Software Rating Board, but many researchers are skeptical that there is a direct link between violent media and aggression in viewers. Violent-crime offenses decreased about 20 percent from 1998 to 2011, according to the FBI, while video game sales more than tripled, to $16.6 billion last year, according to the Entertainment Software Association.