DENVER – On CNN on Sunday, Governor Hickenlooper attempted to blame violent video games in part for the tragic shooting at an elementary school in Newtown, CT.
“Look at the level of violence in our media, video games,” Hickenlooper said.
“The depiction of these assault weapons again and again, there might well be some direct connection between people who have mental instability and when they go over the edge, they transpose themselves, they become part of one of those video games and perhaps that’s why all these assault weapons are used,” he added.
The governor, a former brewpub owner and geologist, has no expertise in psychology. That said, pop psychoanalysis tends to become a fad in the wake of horrific shootings, leading non-experts to blame a rash of alleged social ills for causing a tragedy before investigators have even finished surveying the crime scene.
After the school shootings at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado, there was a rush to blame the music of Marilyn Manson because it was believed the two shooters listened to his music.
In response to be being blamed, Manson penned a column in Rolling Stone decrying his scapegoating.
“Man’s greatest fear is chaos,” Manson wrote. “It was unthinkable that these kids did not have a simple black-and-white reason for their actions. And so a scapegoat was needed.”
Video games are being targeted in the wake of initial reports suggesting the Newtown shooter played violent video games. But it’s unclear if those reports are accurate, as many basic facts — from the shooter’s name to his mother’s employment situation — have been misreported in the days following the tragedy.
Even if the Newtown shooter played violent video games, many experts scoff at the notion that the games, played by hundreds of millions of people who don’t commit violent acts, play any role in tragedies like Newtown.
Chris Ferguson, the department chair of psychology and communication at Texas A&M, told ABC News that violent video games is the wrong conversation to be having.
“If we are serious about reducing these types of violence in our society, video game violence or other media violence issues are clearly the wrong direction to focus on,” Ferguson recently told ABC News. “Video game use is just not a common factor among mass homicide perpetrators. Some have been players, others have not been.”
Governor Hickenlooper’s comments about video games came days after he called for new gun control legislation in the upcoming legislative session slated to start January 9. While it is expected that gun control legislation will be a major debate at the Capitol, it is unclear if video games will also be a part of that discussion.