In brief: Not for the first time, certain politicians have said video games should take some of the blame for mass shootings. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick both pointed to the medium as being partly responsible for the tragedies that took place over the weekend.
A gunman opened fire at a crowded El Paso shopping area on Saturday, killing 20 people and injuring 26 more. Thirteen hours later, another mass shooting took place, this one in downtown Dayton, which saw nine people killed and at least 27 injured.
Speaking about the shootings on Fox News, Patrick mentioned what is believed to be an anti-immigrant manifesto posted by the El Paso shooter on 8chan, which includes a Call of Duty reference.
"How long are we going to let, for example, and ignore at the federal level particularly, where they can do something about the videogame industry," said Patrick. "In this manifesto, that we believe is from the shooter, he talks about living out his super soldier fantasy on Call of Duty.”
Patrick added that "there have been studies that say [video games] impact people, and studies that say it does not.”
"I look at the common denominators, as a 60-something father and grandfather myself, what's changed in this country? We've always had guns, we've always had evil, but what's changed when we see this rash of shooting? And I see a videogame industry that teaches young people to kill.”
His sentiments were later repeated by McCarthy in an interview with Fox and Friends. One thing he blamed the shootings on was “a video game industry that teaches young people to kill.”
clip here -- it's very much jumping off Tx. Lt. Gov Dan Patrick's comments to F&F earlier pic.twitter.com/J8PqvNtvz0— John Whitehouse (@existentialfish) August 4, 2019
"I've always felt that is a problem for future generations and others. We watch from studies shown before of what it does to individuals," he said. "When you look at these photos of how it took place, you can see the actions within videogames."
We’ve been here before, of course. Video games have been shouldering the blame for mass shootings going back to the 1999 Columbine massacre, which saw families of those who lost their lives attempt to sue several game companies, but the suit was dismissed.
Following the Parkland shooting in Florida last year, President Trump held a roundtable at the White House with industry representatives to discuss violence in video games. The meeting began with an 88-second montage showing deaths from M-rated games. The clip (below) features a lot of content from the Call of Duty series.
There have been numerous studies showing no links between video games and aggression, but it seems they’ll always be demonized in the wake of mass shootings. Another Fox News guest, Former FBI agent Maureen O'Connell, said of the El Paso shooter: "If I were a betting man, I'd say that he probably logs 6-8 hours a day playing one of those, you know, Fortnite, or one of those video games.”
In related news, Cloudflare, the internet infrastructure company that helps protect websites from DDoS attacks, has announced it will stop offering its services to 8chan. Company CEO Matthew Prince wrote: “The rationale is simple: they have proven themselves to be lawless and that lawlessness has caused multiple tragic deaths,” he said. “Even if 8chan may not have violated the letter of the law in refusing to moderate their hate-filled community, they have created an environment that revels in violating its spirit.”
8chan founder Fredrick Brennan thanked Cloudflare for its decision, writing “Finally this nightmare may have an end,” in a tweet.
Thank you so much @CloudFlare. Finally this nightmare might have an end. I just want to go back to making my fonts in peace and not have to worry about getting phone calls from CNN/New York Times every time a mass shooting happens. They could have prevented this and chose not to.— Fredrick Brennan (@HW_BEAT_THAT) August 5, 2019
In 2017, Cloudflare was one of several companies to sever ties with white supremacist sites in the wake of the Charlottesville protests, which saw Heather Heyer killed when a car drove into a crowd.
Image credit: aschwaphoto via Shutterstock