Free Minds & Free Markets

Trump Recycles False Claim that Video Gaming Causes School Shootings

Attacking violent video games is useless political theater.

VideoViolencePSUPSUA day after the post-Parkland listening session at the White House, President Donald Trump trotted out the inaccurate and simplistic suggestion that playing violent video games contributes to school shootings. The president expressed his concern about the effects of what kids are seeing on the internet and then observed, "And also video games. I'm hearing more and more say the violence of video games is really shaping young people's thoughts."

Let's be clear about two things. First, as the popularity of video games has grown, the rate of violent crime has plummeted. Second, most scientific studies do not find a significant connection between video violence and real violence.

A new survey by Pew Research finds that nearly every kid in America plays video games. A 2016 survey by Statista found that 27.5 and 22.5 percent of video games sold in the U.S. were shooter and action games, respectively. Meanwhile, the violent crime rate has fallen by nearly 50 percent since 1990.

What do scientific studies have to say about violent video games' effects on players? In 2015, an American Psychological Association task force claimed that "Violent video game play is linked to increased aggression in players but insufficient evidence exists about whether the link extends to criminal violence or delinquency." Even that went too far: In an analysis published this month of how the task force reached its conclusion, psychologists Allen Copenhaver and Christopher Ferguson found that "the Task Force appeared to be 'stacked' with members who had publically taken antivideo game positions in the past...without this being balanced with more skeptical scholars."

In fact, studies failing to find a link between playing violent video games and violence in the real world continue to stack up. For example, a new paper in the journal NeuroSignals set out to measure empathic responses to viewing painful stimuli; it found no difference in the brain scans of people who did or didn't play violent video games. "We did not find any evidence for desensitization in the empathy network for pain in the violent video game group at any time point," report the researchers. "The present results provide strong evidence against the frequently proclaimed negative effects of playing violent video games and will therefore help to communicate a more realistic scientific perspective of the effects of violent video gaming in real life."

A new commentary by Ferguson suggests that researchers who insist that violent video games heighten real life aggression are falling prey to confirmation bias.

So is there a link between violent video games and infamy shooters—that is, fame-seeking mass shooters? The Villanova psychologist Patrick Markey tells USA Today, "All we can really say for sure is that there does not appear to be a link at this time between violent video games and school shootings. And if there is a link, it goes in the opposite direction." Markey, co-author of the 2017 book Moral Combat: Why the War on Violent Video Games Is Wrong, reports that only about 20 percent of school shooters play video games, compared with about 70 percent of high school students overall.

Copenhaver and Ferguson agree with Clay Calvert and Robert Richards' contention that "it will take a generation of future politicians 'weaned' on violent video games to come to the conclusion that violent video games are not harmful to young people." President Trump is clearly not a member of that generation.

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  • Citizen X - #6||

    I'm hearing more and more say the violence of video games is really shaping young people's thoughts.

    Holy shit. Trump is a time traveler from 1995?

  • $park¥ leftist poser||

    Tipper Gore was hiding under his bed last night whispering her agenda directly into his subconscious.

  • Chipper Morning Baculum||

    Trump has bed risers, huh.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    In his pants.

  • Hugh Akston||

    What are you retarded or something? Trump is hearing people say that. More of them. Then more still after that. Clearly those people are the time travelers. That's what I've heard people say, anyway.

  • Libertymike||

    Time travelling back to 1985?

  • loveconstitution1789||

    More like Time Bandits.

  • BYODB||

    Well, since Trump mirrors a lot of the shit Bill Clinton said that's not very far off the mark.

  • SimonP||

    Given that Trump's beliefs and knowledge on virtually any subject all seem to date from the late-80's, early-90's, I'm not at all surprised.

  • Mark22||

    Given that there has been little of value produced in the social sciences since the early 90's, that's probably why Trump ended up being rather popular.

  • LarryA||

    Trump is a time traveler from 1995?

    AFAIK Doom was about the first "violent video game." Given it premiered in 1993, I don't think it got on the government's radar in two years.

    The interesting coincidence is that 1993 was the year violent crime started dropping.

  • Mark22||

    Doom was simply the first 3D shooter. There were plenty of other violent games before then.

  • Elias Fakaname||

    It's true. Pac-Man was even the primary influence on domestic energy policy.

  • Jim C.||

    Well, playing video games makes you a loser and it's losers shooting up these schools...

    *insert trollface*

  • Hugh Akston||

    Attacking violent video games is useless political theater.

    It's weird that Trump would waste his time on it then.

  • Ron Bailey||

    HA: Fair point with regard to making the right vote-getting sympathetic noises. But definitely useless with respect to "solving" any problems associated with infamy shootings.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    The random shooting problem cannot really be solved. Certainly not by banning guns or other violations of the 2nd Amendment.

    You people know that Trump let other people have all the soundbites and the gun grabbers have been hogging all the soundbites lately.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    *Trump cannot let other people

  • Hugh Akston||

    It was just jokes Ron. 75% of what Trump does is useless political theater. The other 25% is counterproductive political theater.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Hugh, not even .000001% is useful in rolling back government?

  • Hugh Akston||

    If he ever manages to actually shrink the government by 0.000001%, sure.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    So you are just gonna double down on TDS, I see.

  • Hugh Akston||

    Trump's proposed budget for 2018 increases spending by $90 billion over 2017.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Trump's 2019 budget:
    President Trump on Monday unveiled his budget proposal for the 2019 fiscal year, which makes significant cuts to some federal agencies and projects as part of an effort to slash the federal deficit by $3 trillion over the next 10 years.
    The Hill, Trump 2019 budget

    Lets see if Congress does it.

  • Hugh Akston||

    The proposed budget for FY 2019 increases spending by $200 billion and increases the deficit by more than $100 billion. The white house budget is wishful thinking compared to actual federal spending, and projected deficit reductions in subsequent years is fanfiction with Trump as the Mary Sue.

  • damikesc||

    Hell, he should watch one of Penn & Teller's "Bullshit" episodes that dealt with this. They had a young (12 year old or so) hardcore gamer shoot an ACTUAL military rifle.

    Kid broke down and cried afterwards. Because the reality is so much more different than the fiction. If it is your first experience, it'd likely freak out most people.

    Games really, really do not "de-sensitize" you to anything as there is always the uncanny valley issue. The "best-looking" games always don't look real. As pretty as it was, Battlefield 1 did not look like real World War I.

  • creech||

    Of course, he is hearing that. That's the loudest voices among the tub-thumpers. Isn't it the job of groups such as CATO and reason foundation to put countervailing information in front of the policy makers? You've been around for decades and certainly know by now how to reach someone who can whisper in Trump's ear that facts don't bear out today's narrative.

  • Hugh Akston||

    The implied premise being that Trump cares what the facts are.

  • Stormy Dragon||

    CATO and Reason try, but Trump thinks they're all gay because they speak in complete sentences.

  • Curt||

    Joe was able to understand them, but when he spoke in an ordinary voice, he sounded pompous and faggy to them.


    Joe stated his case logically and passionately, but his perceived effeminate voice only drew big gales of stupid laughter.

  • Elias Fakaname||

    Stormy, I find it amusing that portray you Trump, who is clearly smarter than you are, as some kind of idiot.

  • esteve7||

    One of the reasons I could never vote for Hillary. When I was a pre-teen / teen playing video games is when she was screeching over 'violent video games'. Trump is just as wrong as she is.

    In the words of my cousin --- he asked my uncle "why are there so many stupid people?"

    "Because there's a lot of fucking people!"

  • SIV||

    You know what would be really bad? If Trump or the NRA ever called for actually regulating games. Of course that won't happen because neither are progressives.

  • Jerryskids||

    Just from my experience, I'd say playing violent video games leads to playing violent video games 2 and violent video games: the return. That and getting your fat ass trapped in the chair where you have to holler at mom to bring you down some more Doritos and a Mountain Dew.

  • Libertymike||

    What about organic, kettle baked potato chips?

  • Longtobefree||

    Fake news

  • The Laissez-Ferret||

    +1 artisanal

  • Elias Fakaname||

    Playing too many violent video games leads to missing work, and probably a disproportionate increase in Mountain Dew consumption.

  • MG58||

    In reality, there's much more evidence that violent video games promote aggressive behavior than that they don't. But even the researchers who most strongly believe that violent video games cause aggression would not tell you that video games *cause* mass shootings. They are many more influential things like violence in one's community, stability and violence in the family, personality factors, and so on. Video games would never take a stable, non-violent person and make them into a criminal. The evidence is more along the lines of "you might get snappy at someone a little more than if you didn't play the video games."

  • Hugh Akston||

    Your links to the evidence aren't showing. Check your formatting and try again.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Hugh, your famous for spouting nonsense without support.

    I agree with his observations but support would be better.

  • Hugh Akston||

    Your links to any unsupported nonsense I have spouted also aren't showing up. Maybe it's my browser.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Then you must be not looking at your earlier posts under this article.

    You have to deactivate the TDS feature of your browser.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    What trump said:
    "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," the president said from the White House during a meeting with officials on school safety.

    "And also video games. I'm hearing more and more people say the level of violence on video games is really shaping young people's thoughts."

    Although I have never heard of a study linking violent video games and violent internet content to doing it in real life, there are examples of dumb kids seeing something and then doing it. Tide pod eating is one example.


    It is true that some kids see stuff and imitate it. The lefties know this which is why propaganda is so central to their strategy to brainwash kids.

  • Ron Bailey||

    l: You do know that the Tide Pod thing is way overblown.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Sure. The liberals made them do thing is ridiculous.

    Kids are eating them after they see someone else do it.

    As I said, I am not advocating that even Tide Pods should be removed for that reason or there be censorship.

    What I am pointing out is that there was a bit of TDS which is why I quoted what Trump actually said. I know the media takes nearly everything that Trump says and spins it into THE END OF SOCIETY AS WE KNOW IT.

    The shooting hysteria is all over the news. The media is looking for soundbites to catch Trump as an inconsiderate asshole and he is not giving them that. They clamp onto him saying what he said.

    Another thing the media does is take "We" coming from Trump as "government". That is a mistake. THat is what lefties do with government. When Obama said "We" he meant every government mo-fo would consider that policy. Pen and phone and all that.


    The problem today is the lack of real socialization, everything happens on the phone and internet. Kids do not interact with one another and learn how to communicate without the aid of an electronic device. 50 years ago kids could play a baseball game without an adult present. They would choose teams, make rules to account for a smaller number than 18. The kids would range in age from 8 -17, older kids pitched and when the younger kids came to bat the pitches were thrown at an appropriate speed. Today you couldn't get 18 kids together, you couldn't get 3. Children today are entertained by electronic devices, from TVs to VCRs, to video games to the internet and cell phones. The structure of today's "I want it now" society require both parents to work as if what you own defines who you are. The number of single-parent households leaves children alone until the parent comes home, not the ideal situation. We have allowed our society to decline morally and now we are seeing the results of that decline.

  • Telcontar the Wanderer||

    Today's "I want it now" society? Do you seriously believe that's why so many parents work full-time? Do the words "student loans", "housing prices", "skyrocketing drug costs" and "wage stagnation" have no preexisting connotation for you?

    And literally everything you said above that proves you've never watched a Let's Play video of CoD or WoW.

  • BYODB||

    And reading violent books makes people murder folks too. Ban books from schools! We know this must be the case because of all those shootings and bombings that happened before video was even invented.

  • Jim C.||

    Why not just ban violence and murder?

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Do you mean ban people?

  • BYODB||

    We can do that too, don't you worry. It's not a binary choice when it comes to banning things for your own good.

    /The State

  • ||

    And reading violent books makes people murder folks too. Ban books from schools! We know this must be the case because...

    Of all those people who literally cited Mein Kampf, Das Kapital, The Motorcycle Diaries, and On Guerilla Warfare as they marched tens of millions off to gas chambers, gulags, firing squads, and mass graves.

    I think some common sense socialist propaganda control is in order. It only leads to atrocities like the most recent tragedies in Venezuela and Guatemala. I mean, nobody really needs more than one or two socialist tropes to defend themselves.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    I think something affects boys psyches when they are unable to be boys and play war, police, cowboys and indians etc.

    I am not saying that boys should be allowed to hit other kids and stuff but boys doing cool stuff helps them develop more in tune with our biology.

    There seems to be evidence that boys are growing up with pent up rage, violent streaks, medicated psychosis, and general emasculating rules. Add boys raging hormones to fuck something and you get a dangerous cocktail (pun intendend).

  • Libertymike||

    Have you ever read The War Against Boys by Christina Hoff Sommers?

  • loveconstitution1789||

    I haven't read it. I quickly looked it up and remember all the lefties freaking out when that book came out.

    Worth checking out?

  • Libertymike||


  • loveconstitution1789||

    Thanks. I will.

  • SimonP||

    Does the book explain why you're a failure, or does it merely help you to feel good about being a shit-for-brains?

  • Agnes||

    I've come to the conclusion that emasculation is 99% responsible for male violence / rage. I wish all boys were raised on farms until they were 18. They'd all probably be a lot better adjusted and happier. My mother always said, in her cute way, it's cruel to make a little boy sit still for 8 hours a day (school), and as I get older, I think she's right.

    And honestly, then we wouldn't have to outsource our cheap labor to illegal immigrants and would have more bodies in the field to make organic farming a little more cost effective so we could wean our farmers off of the pesticide teat.

    So many problems solved.....

  • Marcus Aurelius||

  • ||

    I think something affects boys psyches when they are unable to be boys and play war, police, cowboys and indians etc.

    Honestly, I don't necessarily confine it to 'boys' and 'war'. There's a more generic conditioning

  • Libertymike||

    I have watched The Outlaw Josey Wales dozens of times. It has not lead me to make war against the state, deep or otherwise, yet.

  • Longtobefree||

    Maybe, but I bet you hate redlegs - - - - - -

  • Inigo Montoya||

    "I have watched The Outlaw Josey Wales dozens of times. It has not lead me to make war against the state, deep or otherwise, yet."

    Maybe the main message you absorbed from it is that you must endeavor to persevere.

  • Jima||

    Seems to me that most video games end up promoting some kind of social interaction - you want to compete against other players, which leads to socializing, which might actually create less isolated weirdos who decide to flip and shoot people. Violent video games might actually lessen violence. I have no evidence whatsoever, but since we're all just imagining effects, I thought I'd play.

  • Red Rocks White Privilege||

    you want to compete against other players, which leads to socializing, which might actually create less isolated weirdos

    Online gaming provides the same superficial level of socialization that being on social media does. It's hardly a substitute for actually getting out of the house and socializing with people face to face.

    Considering most of these mass shooters tend to be nerd outcasts from the popular crew, I have a hard time believing providing them a means to retreat even further into their made-up fantasy worlds is going to improve their socialization skills.

  • Telcontar the Wanderer||

    The real question, of course, being: where the hell is the kid finding the 5.45 to feed that thing?

  • Longtobefree||

    I thought video games caused cancer.

  • Echospinner||

    As my favorite cartoon bunny from my youth would say "what a maroon".

    Of course Bugs and company are well known promoters of violence, animal cruelty, racism, stereotyping, misogyny, sexual harassment, smoking, drinking, gambling, and occasional cross dressing, or so I hear from more and more people.

  • Elias Fakaname||

    I know,wasn't it awesome? Not like kids cartoons today, which are largely shit, or garbage.

  • Banake||

    I guess hacks like Jack Thompson and Anita Sarkeesian leave their marks.

  • Intelligent Mr Toad||

    I knew someone who played JOUST a lot. Then one day he actually got on to an ostrich, flew through the air, and knocked a mounted policeman off his horse!

  • Telcontar the Wanderer||

    I call bullshit. Everyone knows ostriches can't fly.

  • Mark22||

    Obviously, video games don't cause violence!

    Obviously, video games only cause misogyny, racism, and inequality, unless they display a proper balance of genders and races, with "proper" being determined by the scientific consensus of gender science and race science professors at select US universities!

  • Elias Fakaname||

    Amd when the census numbers change, then a software patch may be applied to correct any changes in diversity numbers!

  • cja||

    It's proven science that one of the ways children learn is my imitation. They imitate what they see around them- all of it is done unconsciously.
    The Barbo experiments were a controlled study that showed shocking results. Because of Barbo, and other studies on learning, there were discussions about the effect of violence on kids that they see on TV. It's why TV shows have ratings and some can't be telecast during family hour.

    But, that was then. The industry is huge and their money speaks volumes. Furthermore- Liberals, and the Entertainment Industry that supports them, found a scapegoat: guns. Until Trump.

  • Joe in St. Cloud||

    National Institute on Media and the Family did a study on this in the 90s where they let kids watch Power Rangers and let them watch Barney and recorded how they behaved afterward.

    There may be something to the realism of the violence kids commit in video games that can carry over due to it seeming so real, but to blame violent video games for school shootings is a stretch. Broken homes, anti-anxiety/depression drugs and not allowing kids to get their aggression out are more to blame in my opinion.

  • cja||

    because there are so many school shootings, shooting up schools is part of culture now. If there were multiple shootings of 7-11 stores reported on the news and part of he political debate, the kid would have shot up a 7-11 store.

    Continual exposure to violence changes your 'brain wiring'. The military calls it PTSD. When it comes to people shooting up school they call it guns

  • Telcontar the Wanderer||

    If there were multiple shootings of 7-11 stores

    When in the history of the 7-11 store are you under the impression this has not been the case.

    Kids shoot up schools because that's where the people they hate/want to impress can be found and higher casualties make them feel more "powerful". High media coverage increases the sense of powerfulness because it allows the shooter to "impress" more people, but higher casualties would also do that irrespective of media coverage. Shooting a random 7-11 clerk ain't gonna cut it.

  • Elias Fakaname||

    Is this a bad time for me to roll out my "High School Massacre" 3D FPS game? I was going to bundle it with my driving game "Drunk Driver: GOTY Edition".

  • Telcontar the Wanderer||

    Rockstar North did it first.

  • FredH||

    I work with kids that spend up to 90% of their waking hours playing video games. They have few rfriends vs ifriends (real friends vs internet friends), they are poorly skilled in interacting with other kids their age and they are not developing empathy. Video games and social media are designed to be addictive. I've talked to game developers and they think it's great that people put in so much time on their creations. Sick. Trump's right, you're wrong.

  • Telcontar the Wanderer||

    You know what else the government cracked down on because it was "designed to be addictive"?

  • MaleMatters||

    The Bath School Disaster occurred well before video games. See:

    "Gun Control and Mass Killers"

    Delete the spaces.

  • Telcontar the Wanderer||

    HTML code for link in text (replace parentheses with < and >):

    (a href="link")text(/a)

  • simplybe||

    I won't say that violent video games and/or movies and tv shows cause people to be violent but I do think it desensitizes people towards violence. When I grew up in the 50s and early 60s we all had guns and we all had fights but we never would have got a gun to settle a score. But when you have grown up where every show and game solves every problem with someone shooting someone to solve every argument it begins to seem normal. Throw into the mix everytime a kid show any kind of behavior that someone deems inappropriate they are put on drugs then your are looking at a future tragedy waiting to happen


    Using your corrolary, the amount of violent crime has decreased as the number of firearms has skyrocketed. The phony violence seen by preteens and teens in movies, TV programs and in video games as well as the violence glorified in today's music can't have an effect on the behavior of any individual but an inanimate object can? The amount of fake violence a child/teen has no effect on their behavior? What types of brain changes do mass shooters brains show? If there is a physical change in the brain of mass shooters, maybe a brain scan can ID the shooter before the event happens. It doesn't surprise me that a progressive, liberal writer would reject any solution that does not conform to their idea of what measures should be taken to stop the majority of mass shootings. I'd be willing to bet the author does not believe eliminating Gun Free Zones, arming teachers qualified to carry a firearm be allowed to do so in schools, having a security presence on the school grounds adequate to stop a shooter, or all media stop publicising the names of the shooters, would do anything to prevent future mass shootings. I'd be willing to bet he believes banning the AR and AK rifles would. The left will never accept any answer that does not conform to their power grabbing tactics.

  • Telcontar the Wanderer||

    Undermines his own argument in the first two sentences, advocates using brain scans to determine precrime, and finishes up with a platoon of strawmen. Whew.


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