School shootings in the United States aren’t anything new. Elementary and high school students alike, and their families, have watched their friends and teachers lose their lives to gun violence. With each new tragedy comes a new wave of pleas for something to change. The president’s suggestions after the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in February 2018 weren’t what many expected to hear.
Donald Trump wants to put certain regulations in place that he says could prevent tragedies like these from happening again. They aren’t the measures that have been proven effective, though.
The truth about gun violence in the U.S.
The United States doesn’t have the highest rate of gun violence in the world — that title, as of 2016, belongs to El Salvador. That doesn’t mean the numbers aren’t significant. Annual gun deaths in America have risen to the tens of thousands.
Knowing this, people are scrambling to place the blame on something — mental illness usually comes up first. Violence, portrayed in the media, normally follows close behind.
Next: Do teens’ choices of entertainment make them behave badly?
The average teen spends 9+ hours per day on entertainment
As of 2015, the average American teenager spent nine hours or more per day consuming various forms of media. This includes TV, internet, video games, and more.
This could be one reason why it’s easy to blame entertainment for children’s behavior — and why movies and games take so much of the blame for the violence we see in real life. The truth is, they probably don’t deserve it. Lawmakers don’t seem to care.
Next: One U.S. state has already tried to fix the “problem” — and failed.
California tried to ban violent games once
California governing officials tried to pass a law that would have prohibited the sale or rental of violent video games to people under the age of 18. The Supreme Court rejected the ban, saying the sales of violent video games to children are a First Amendment right.
Next: Donald Trump blamed this industry for the 2018 Parkland school shooting.
Trump says video game violence is ‘shaping young people’s thoughts’
According to Donald Trump, the media is largely at fault for so many young people in America facing tragedies such as gun violence.
The president said, “I’m hearing more and more people say the level of violence on video games is really shaping young people’s thoughts.” He suggested regulation of such mature content, despite decades’ worth of research opposing him.
Next: Does Trump’s opinion have merit?
Research says he’s definitely wrong
Video games do not cause violence in real life. The debate resurfaces with every mass shooting, but the conclusions never change.
Have there been studies that might suggest the contrary? It depends on who you ask. Just because one team of researchers found a correlation does not make it fact. When asked, most will tell you with confidence the evidence is not sufficient to claim otherwise, despite the president’s opinion.
Next: Stop blaming video games and start blaming … what?
If video games don’t make kids violent, what does?
There are many factors that might cause a child or teenager to act aggressively or exhibit violent behaviors. There’s just not enough evidence to prove gaming is to blame.
It’s important to note that only 22% of those guilty of mass murders live with “severe” mental illnesses. Most people diagnosed with mental health disorders do not engage in violent behavior. According to the research, gun violence, overall, is not a mental health problem. But it is a public health problem.
Next: This organization says gun violence is a public health hazard.
Regardless of the reason, gun violence is extremely deadly
It’s unlikely we’ll ever come to an agreement, as a country, on the most pressing underlying causes of gun-related homicides. Whatever they might be, one thing is clear: it’s a problem that needs a solution.
The American Public Health Association says gun violence is a leading cause of premature death in the United States. At least 30,000 people lose their lives to guns every year, and 60,000 more sustain injuries. Whether it’s restricting children’s hobbies or a measure actually backed by research, something needs to change.
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