Republican politicians in The United States, including President Donald Trump, have pointed the finger of blame at video games in light of a recent wave of mass shootings in the United States over the weekend. Former Vice President and current Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden weighed in on the alleged connections between video games and civil violence, offering a mixed view on video game culture.
In an interview with Anderson Cooper for CNN, Joe Biden was asked about Prudent Trump’s recent statements on video games and violence, remarking that Biden had “rolled [his] eyes” at the idea.
Here’s full video of the segment. pic.twitter.com/RRystpuvFn
— Jon Passantino (@passantino) August 6, 2019
“I’ve talked about [violence in video games] too,” Biden told Anderson Cooper. “It is not healthy to have these games teaching the kids the dispassionate notion that you can shoot somebody and kind of blow their brains out.” Anderson Cooper referred to the popularity of video games in Japan, a nation known in part for extremely low levels of violent crime. Biden responded to the point by saying, “That’s my point. [Video games are] not in and of itself the reason we have this carnage on our streets.”
The examination of video games and video game culture was only part of a longer discussion on gun violence and regulation in the United States. Biden referred specifically to “two problems: the NRA and the gun manufacturers.” Biden also admonished President Trump for “using the language of the kind of things that they [white nationalists] say. His rhetoric contributes to this notion, it almost legitimizes these people coming out from under the rocks. This is white nationalism. It’s terrorism of a different sort, but it’s still terrorism.”
Joe Biden weighed in on video games previously during the Obama Administration. In 2013 under then President Obama’s directive, then Vice President Biden held a White House forum with members of both the video game industry and academia. As reported by Ars Technica, Biden referred to industry members as “scumbags” before the forum began, then shifted positions to state that “we have quite a bit of data that shows that this is not a substantive relationship” between video games and extreme violence. The forum was held shortly after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, and attendees said Biden had met with families of the victims just prior to the start of the event, triggering emotional responses.
Other politicians with the Democratic Party in the United States have weighed in on video games and violence following President Trump’s comments on the need for “cultural change.” Fellow Presidential Candidate and Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren retweeted a message reading: “ACCESS TO GUNS IS THE PROBLEM. Not mental health. Not video games. Not social media. These are dangerous and misguided distractions.”
Vermont Senator and Presidential Candidate Bernie Sanders stated in a campaign video from 2018 that “the NRA’s president blames violent video games for gun violence, yet consulted on and promoted a violent video game. The truth is that the NRA will do everything it can to stop commonsense gun safety legislation which the overwhelming majority of Americans want.”
In April of this year, California Senator and Presidential Candidate Kamala Harris proposed a plan to counter gun violence in the United States that included penalties for gun manufacturers that “violat[e] unfair business practices statutes by marketing assault weapons to children in video games.” Harris was also the Attorney General in 2011, where California unsuccessfully argued to the Supreme Court in favor of restricting the sale of video games that are deemed violent to minors.
Senate Republicans are currently working on a legislative answer after the rash of gun violence over the past weekend. CNN reports that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell urged Texas Senator John Cornyn and the committee chairmen to examine whether new legislation is warranted, and whether it would meet the goals laid out in President Trump’s Monday remarks with bipartisan support. Sources told CNN that “Senate Commerce Chairman Roger Wicker will review whether any new legislation is needed in overseeing the content of violent video games.”
Although opposed by Senate Majority Leader McConnel, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer have said that these other legislative proposals concerning video games can be considered later. House Speaker Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Schumer will first demand that the Senate vote on the sweeping background checks bill that passed the House earlier this year.