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President Trump To Meet with Video Game Makers Because...FBI Failed To Follow Up on Nikolas Cruz?

Politicians love to find scapegoats for mass shootings, especially if it lets them exonerate law enforcement and the social welfare state.

President Donald Trump is meeting today with video game makers to discuss whether violent entertainment somehow motivated Nikolas Cruz to slaughter 17 innocent people at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Despite the absolute lack of any convincing connection between violent entertainment and real-world violence, Trump has a longstanding belief that the two things are intimately connected. Here he is, in a 2012 tweet, echoing arguments made over the years by Hillary Clinton, Bob Dole, Janet Reno, and others:

Let's be clear about two things.

First, there is no causal link between playing video games, violent or peaceful, and becoming violent, much less a mass shooter. To wit:

"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." [Villanova psychologist Patrick] 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.

So what gives? For one ting, there's a generational bias. Older Americans such as Trump (who pointedly doesn't even use email) are unfamiliar with video games and blame them for social ills the same way their parents blamed Elvis and Little Richard for juvenile delinquency in the 1950s. There's also an ideological bias in the quickly debunked studies that claim playing Grand Theft Auto or Call of Duty is creating killers. Ronald Bailey writes:

"If media violence is a precursor to societal violence the introduction of violent video games in the United States would be expected to precipitate increased youth violence rates." Yet as violent video game consumption has increased nearly eightfold since 1996, the violence rate among Americans ages 12–17 fell from 35 to 6 per 1,000 people.

How did social science go so wrong? Ideology. As one parses the research, it becomes apparent that well-intentioned liberal social science researchers engaged in inquiries they hoped would result in restrictions that would prevent school shootings, reduce the murder rate, usher in strict gun control, and, one suspects, elevate their fellow Americans' lowbrow tastes in entertainment. They continue to decry the alleged deleterious effects of violent media even as U.S. violence rates continue their steep decline. The old guard actually cannot see how their experiments and studies are a massive exercise in confirmation bias.

Rockstar GamesRockstar GamesSecond, there is a persistent gesture to direct attention away from the failures of law enforcement, the social welfare state, and the school bureaucracy, all of whom were clearly aware of Cruz's problematic and actionable behaviors. For liberals and Democrats, this typically takes the shape of demonizing the National Rifle Association and blaming it for resisting background checks even when existing procedures are not being followed. In the Florida shooting, conservatives and Republicans have uncharacteristically gone after a lawman, Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel, but that's only because Israel is a vocal supporter of gun control and has very publicly disowned any responsibility for his department's failure. Nikolas Cruz generated at least 30 police reports going back to 2011, had been investigated by Florida's Department of Children & Families, was known to the FBI, and was expelled from Stoneman Douglas for bringing a knife to school. As the shooting took place, four Broward County sheriff's deputies, including the school resource officer, did not engage Cruz but waited outside the school, inaction that "stunned and upset" other police as they arrived on the scene. Just this week, Acting FBI Deputy Director David Bowdich told Congress that (as The Hill summarizes it) "the FBI failed to follow its own protocol after it received a tip in January about the accused shooter, Nikolas Cruz, 19, and vowed to take corrective actions."

Figuring out the failures of state actors to prevent the Florida shooting in the first place or to minimize its casualties once it occurred isn't as easy as berating the video game industry for creating the 21st century's most popular and accomplished new art form. But given that none of the gun control measures that have been discussed would reduce mass shootings either, it would be a good start.

Related: "How Washington Learned To Love Video Games"

Photo Credit: Reason

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  • Brian||

    If life imitates art, then when do police become competent and good-intentioned?

  • gormadoc||

    Police Quest is the oldest police-oriented game I can think of off the top of my head, and they are fairly incompetent.

  • Chumby||

    I think Brian was thinking of Die Hard and Lethal Weapon coppery.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Why are we not hauling Hollywood in front of committees to demand why the glorification of guns displayed constantly on the silver screen hasn't yet ceased?

  • Presskh||

    Agree. I don't care what the author says, repeatedly exposing someone to extreme violence, including the stalking and shooting of other people, desensitizes one to it and, after repeated exposure over a long time, normalizes it. This goes for movies, TV shows, and video games. This is, of course, not the sole reason for school mass murders , but is certainly a contributing factor.

  • NaiveLubertarian||

    How do you prove your theory? I play violent video games and love a good shooter movie (John Wick). I also own guns. Yet, I have never had any desire to harm or even threaten the life of another human being. Perhaps I'm just an outlier in your research?

  • BillEverman||

    Cool that you have an opinion. But I'm not sure what privileges your opinion over other, contrary ones.

    It is inconvenient, though, that over the past twenty years as video games have become more popular, more violent, and more realistic, violent crime rates have fallen by half.

  • SIV||

    Politicians love to find scapegoats for mass shootings, especially if it lets them exonerate law enforcement and the social welfare state.

    Good thing Trump isn't doing that. It's as if he's somehow different than other politicians. #MAGA

  • Chipper Morning Baculum||

    Most politicians look for scapegoats, while SIV looks for scapecocks.

  • Citizen X - #6||

    Ain't no cock yet has managed to 'scape from SIV when he's in the mood.

  • Chipper Morning Baculum||

    Fucking Trump. Is he trying to be on the wrong side of EVERY issue?

  • Citizen X - #6||

    Of course children imitate the bad behavior they see in video games. That's why i spent the early '90s eating mushrooms and jumping on turtles.

  • Chipper Morning Baculum||

    I walked around in a leisure suit, trying to get laid.

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    That's a much more obscure, and much more classy reference than X. So you won.

  • Citizen X - #6||

    IT'S NOT A CONTEST, BUCS.

  • Chumby||

    It is. And Chipper gets to open more treasure chests.

  • ||

    Of course children imitate the bad behavior they see in video games.

    I'm not with Antifa, I'm just unable to distinguish reality from Wolfenstein.

  • Chasman1965||

    I think so.

  • UnrepentantCurmudgeon||

    He doesn't really have to try. Trump is an unreconstructed liberal who dressed up in conservative clothes (and changed parties) in order to shake up the 2016 campaign. Leave him to his own devices and the barely-closeted liberal will come out front and center every time.

  • ||

    Older Americans such as Trump (who pointedly doesn't even use email) are unfamiliar with video games and blame them for social ills the same way their parents blamed Elvis and Little Richard for juvenile delinquency in the 1950s.

    Nick, please realize that the "Old people, generation over generation, are always scared of shit." trope is not only going to fail at some point, but actively start working against you. Trump pointedly doesn't use email but he's managed, on multiple occasions, to own the shit out of loads of morons half his age on Twitter. The guy's no genius, but avoiding email, Twitter, Facebook, etc., especially selectively, doesn't make one a fogey Luddite.

    There doesn't need to be an underlying force or explicit pattern behind it, old people get things wrong, same as young ones (but, ideally less).

  • Citizen X - #6||

    For the true ancient person perspective, we're gonna have to wait until Mike Hihn finds this thread, at around 4:30 this afternoon.

  • Chipper Morning Baculum||

    Is that when sunset occurs?

  • Citizen X - #6||

    That's when he finishes dinner and his grandson stops by to log him into Juno.

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    If only the actual info we knew about Hihn was that nice.

  • Citizen X - #6||

    He had some inspirational photos of seagulls on his Facebook page once.

  • TGoodchild||

    great reference; those were the days.

  • Chumby||

    That is when the "home" where he lives stops playing VHS tapes of Matlock on the 19" screen CRT tv in the common room.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    The guy's no genius, but avoiding email, Twitter, Facebook, etc., especially selectively, doesn't make one a fogey Luddite.

    I'd avoid email today if I could get away with it.

  • ||

    I'd avoid email today if I could get away with it.

    I'd make up an excuse to miss work and go meet with video game manufacturing big wigs.

  • I am the 0.000000013%||

    This would all be a lot more fun if the non-elected officials weren't continually cinching the noose tighter.

  • Rhywun||

    "Video games are plainly not the issue: entertainment is distributed and consumed globally, but the U.S. has an exponentially higher level of gun violence than any other nation."

    /some idiot who doesn't understand the meanings of words

  • DiegoF||

    "That's exponentially hot."

    --Intellectual Paris Hilton

  • UnrepentantCurmudgeon||

    Something about correlation not equating to causation.

  • MatthewSlyfield||

    Something about a high percentage of statistics being made up, including this one.

  • Rich||

    How did social science go so wrong?

    Let me answer that question by posing another: How did "social science" go so wrong?

  • DiegoF||

    Let me answer that question by posing a more arousing one: How did social science go so "wrong"?

  • Azathoth!!||

    If I seek out great literature, read it, study it, get to know all about it--even attempt to emulate it, one would say, and rightly so, that it had influenced me.

    If I were to study libertarian thought, read libertarian sites and books and sources, one could say that libertarianism had and influence on my life

    But if I were to immerse myself in violent video games, reading about them, playing them, collecting and learning everything I could about them I would, according to the common 'wisdom', be completely uninfluenced by them. They would have no impact whatsoever on me. It would be as if I'd never seen any of them.

    That makes sense.

    Right?

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    No, but the questions isn't do they influence people. Of course they do, everything influences people. The question is does it influence people towards violence. And the research shows no causal link.

  • ||

    That makes sense.

    Right?

    You're being mendacious, right? 'Influence' as in 'have a (realigning) effect on behavior', more synonymous with emulate or motivate, not 'influence' as in 'have an effect on character or development'. We're all influenced by the tides, few of us actually want to or can emulate them in any real regard.

  • Flinch||

    No, not really, Azathoth. Inconsistency is the hallmark of humanity, so absolutes tend to absolutely fail. I watched a bunch of road runner cartoons growing up, and never once saw it as anything but fantasy - nobody really got hurt [which allowed it to be funny], and I didn't dangle my brother out the second story window to test any theories of what I saw on TV.
    Flip the coin on your argument, and you might see... a place to get out aggression where nobody gets hurt. Is that a good thing? It sure has to be less harmful than preaching gender confusion to teenagers, some of which will go under the knife for so called "gender reassignment" only to discover five to ten years later that sex is primarily between the ears, and they not only have the same set of problems as before, but are scarred for life.
    Your task today... dig up a moment in the life of Ice T, as he sits in his living room to "...kill some m-f on xbox". You'll find it in his own cover of the Suicidal Tendencies song called Institutionalized, with his band called Body Count. Years have passed, and... what happens on xbox, stays on xbox.

  • Azathoth!!||

    See, 'the research shows no causal link'.

    Does it? Do they ask the people who do these things if they were influenced by the games they played, the things they liked to do?

    Do violent video games, movies, and media cause people in the general population to go on killing sprees? No.

    Are they a contributing factor for unstable people who go on killing sprees?...........................?

    Exactly.

    For normal people they're often cathartic. And the studies are designed to show this fact.

    But we're not talking about normal people. Which is why this trope tends to have no effect--on any side.

    My point is that articles like this talk about normal people. And normal people aren't going on killing sprees so who fucking cares that there's no causal link between them and the violence in video games.

  • Chumby||

    How many people have played Grand Theft Auto then run over pedestrians or killed the hooker after sex to get the money they paid her back?

  • Flinch||

    A meeting with video game makers? Yeah, that'll fix the trifecta of federal, state and local governments being useless in Florida. Interestingly, this dovetails with another piece of theatre for idiots during the Clinton years where Joe Camel was blamed for teen smoking. Utter rubbish. Aside from the current news being proof of Trump giving Feinstein excessive audience to pollute his thinking, I should point out the left almost always starts out with bad theory - today it's blaming guns for our DOJ creating a grant program to prevent reporting of crimes which undermined the background check system and served to aid & abet the psycho at Parkland High. I would be remiss to not point out the bad theory behind the idiotic Joe Camel hit job done by democrats before I go, because they don't understand addiction on account of their view of human nature is broken. People arrive and depart recreational use of substances to reach the point of an addiction not by means of peer pressure, but by peer vacuum. And that condition is immutable: humans have a need for love and acceptance. I came of age in LA at the tail end of the surfer/stoner generation well captured by the character of Jeff Spicoli. I never once saw anyone pressured into drug use, but I did see a bunch of people get sucked in. Ditch Feinstein, mr president - you are going the wrong way.

  • DiegoF||

    I came of age in LA at the tail end of the surfer/stoner generation well captured by the character of Jeff Spicoli. I never once saw anyone pressured into drug use, but I did see a bunch of people get sucked in.

    But did you see anyone pressured into ditto sniffing? Hmm, not so smug now!

  • Citizen X - #6||

    What a dick!

  • Mongo||

    Pundits (and my artsy friends) claimed that Joe Camel's face looked like a dick but I would point out that it actually looks more like a snatch!

  • Chumby||

    Sometimes a cigar-ette is just a cigar-ette.

  • SusanM||

    So, games that depict violence against demons, zombies, terrorists, nazis, aliens, nazis, nazis, nazis, communist soldiers, warlords, drug lords, ghosts, aliens, nazis, nazis, nazis, bandits, thieves, nazis, nazis, nazis, nazis, terrorists and nazis caused someone who's a nazi to go on a shooting spree in a school.

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    Who are you and why is your image link to my one true love?

  • SusanM||

    You'll have to share, sorry ;)

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    Well, since you're a rarer poster just make sure to come back when Book of Life comes out so we can share in the joy of it. I don't believe I've convinced anyone else here to play Yakuza.

    Alternatively, we both can have shoulders to cry on if Kiwami 2 doesn't get localized.

  • Fafner||

    if Kiwami 2 doesn't get localized.
    Learn moon.

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    Mines pretty iffy at this point since it's been a few years since I was seriously studying it. Need to pick it up again.

  • Fafner||

    Out of curiosity, what have you forgotten the most: grammar or vocabulary?

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    I think vocabulary. My listening was always iffy as I was focused more on writing, I'm curious to see how quickly I could pick it back up. Vocab is easy to pick back up though. I just need to fucking do it.

  • gormadoc||

    I felt like Japanese grammar was really easy compared to vocab. I'm terrible at vocab in every non-English language though.

  • SusanM||

    I'll have comfort sashimi on hand.

  • DiegoF||

    Not to split hairs here, but I don't think the Cruz kid was a Nazi. Am I wrong? He believed in nothing. Say what you want about the tenets of National Socialism, at least it's an ethos.

  • SusanM||

    Actually, you're right. I forgot that the "ties to white supremacist organizations" bit was something overblown by the media. My bad.

  • Citizen X - #6||

    Some passel of white nationalist dinguses called the Republic of Florida claimed him as a member post facto, but as far as i know the connection was never confirmed.

  • Bongo Supreme||

    Diego, I got buddies who died face down in the muck so that you and I could enjoy a round of Call of Duty!

  • villie||

    The violence in the games is not much different from the relentless excessive violence that is depicted in network videos.

    There used to be code of rules for movie makers that was replaced by any thing goes, including excessive violence.

    How do we know now many criminals are encouraged or get ideas from that excessive almost pornographic violence?

    Ironically, those makers of extreme violence also want gun control so their viewers don' go out and duplicate what they see?

  • ranrod||

    I toldya: Trump Opens Door For Gun Confiscation In America..(Pennsylvania on the list)
    Donald Trump was elected on the promise of protecting the Second Amendment (among other things).
    Instead, he has become the poster boy for one of the most egregious gun control machinations of all: gun confiscation.
    Well, Trump's statements are now the rallying cry for gun grabbers all over America to enact gun confiscation laws.
    I tell you this with all seriousness: At some point, the American people will be forced to view these governmental attacks against our Second Amendment liberties as a declaration of war.
    If you are a freedom-loving American who values your liberties and the God-given right to defend them, happy is NOT what you should be feeling right now. You should be OUTRAGED at Donald Trump, and you should be absolutely determined to be ever vigilant against ANY attempt from Democrats or Republicans from federal, State, or municipal government to enact further restrictions against your right to keep and bear arms—because Trump has opened the door not only for more gun control but also for gun confiscation. Gun confiscation has started in America—and President Trump's Stalinist statements about taking guns first and worrying about due process later is the banner under which this is happening.

  • ranrod||

    So far, five states have passed "red flag" laws that allow police agencies to confiscate guns from someone deemed to be "dangerous" by either a law enforcement officer or a family member BEFORE the individual has committed any crime, and in one State (Rhode Island) the governor issued an executive order implementing a "red flag" law.
    Here are the six states where the legislatures have already passed—or the governor has already issued an executive order implementing—"red flag" laws:
    California, Connecticut, Indiana, Oregon, Washington, Rhode Island

    And since Trump's Stalinist statements, there are at least 24 additional states that are currently considering passing "red flag" laws. These are: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virginia.

    And it's not taking long for law enforcement agencies in the above states to begin their Naziesque assault on gun owners.
    "'There's certainly a big concern of the connection between mental health and people exhibiting violent behavior and whether or not they should have access to firearms.

  • ranrod||

    Fifthly, a U.S. citizen who has committed NO CRIME is denied his Natural right of self-defense for a whole year. And the media report says the confiscations "only" last a year, with the caveat that they may be extended. Indeed. They could and very likely will be extended indefinitely.

    How many defenseless (unarmed) people are robbed, assaulted, accosted, beaten up, raped, wounded, paralyzed, or killed in a year's time? It seems many politicians (and many police officers themselves) will not be content until every American citizen is totally defenseless and unable to protect him or herself.
    An excellent analysis of the constitutional violations of these "red flag" laws:
    1. The seizure of guns without any hearing at all.
    2. Based on the testimony of one unrelated person.
    3. Using a very low standard of proof.
    Trump fell in with anti-Second Amendment liberals and started calling for more gun control, adding "mental health" restrictions to gun purchases and making his stupid Stalinist statements about taking guns first and worrying about due process later.

  • ranrod||

    As it stands right now, Donald Trump has opened the door for more damage being done to the Second Amendment than any other president, Democrat or Republican, in our lifetime. Freedomists in the 50 states had better keep a close eye on their State legislatures this year and next, because, thanks to Donald Trump, gun confiscation is going to be on the agenda in virtually every single State in the country. And while you are at it, don't overlook the federal Congress.

    One more time I want to remind readers that self-defense—including defense against tyrannical government—is more than a right guaranteed in the Second Amendment to our Constitution; it is a duty assigned us in Nature by our Creator. For anyone, especially a Christian, to willingly surrender their means of self-defense is not only a crime against liberty; it is a sin against God.
    https://chuckbaldwinlive.com/Articles/tabid/ 109/ID/3714/Trump-Opens-Door- For-Gun-Confiscation-In-America.aspx

  • Exterminator Richmond IN||

    Today it's blaming guns for our doj creating a grant program to prevent reporting of crimes which undermined the background check system and served to aid & abet the psycho.

  • Brett Bellmore||

    Speaking as a parent, I don't have to think that video games emit diabolical mind control rays, to find games like GTA incredibly offensive, and think the sort of people who write games glorifying criminal conduct need a good talking to.

    Nothing more, mind you, but maybe at a volume just short of causing hearing damage.

  • Chumby||

    Tipper Gore approves

  • BillEverman||

    If we are going to blame video game and Hollywood violence, how about also blaming real life violence on...real life violence? We are currently at war in what...seven different countries? We've been solidly at war for most of the last two decades, and at war for most of our history before that. We try to solve every problem with violence. Drug addiction? Put 'em in cages. And we express admiration of those who engage in violence on behalf of the state. Is it really that odd that some eighteen year old might decide that if an eighteen year old can go off with an ugly looking rifle and shoot a bunch of brown people somewhere and everybody thinks that's just great, that maybe he can use an ugly rifle to solve his personal problems at home?

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