What factors contribute to mass shootings? According to a new report from the National Science Foundation, the answer is a combination of three factors: access to guns, exposure to media violence, and mental health.
PluggedIn.com reports on a new study by the Foundation, working in conjunction with the Congressional Subcommittee on Youth Violence.
The study’s authors point out that Anders Breivik, who murdered 69 youth in Norway, used the video game Modern Warfare 2 as a military simulator to help him practice shooting people.
Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, the Columbine Colorado shooters, claimed they used the violent video game Doom to practice their rampage. Violent video games have also been implicated in other school shootings in Alaska, Kentucky, and Arkansas.
The researchers say, "It is not possible to know whether playing violent games caused Breivik, Harris and Klebold, or any other killer to shoot their victims.”
But they point out that a comprehensive review of more than 381 effects from studies around the world shows that violent video games contribute to several things: increased aggressive thoughts, angry feelings, an increase in heart rate and aggressive behavior.
Violent games also decrease helping behavior and feelings of empathy for others. An analysis of 26 studies involving over 13,000 participants found that violent media exposure is also significantly linked to violent behavior such as punching, beating, and choking others.
Although we can’t say that violent video games actually CAUSE people to commit violent acts, there definitely is a correlation.
So what should our response be as followers of Christ? Well, I’d suggest we take our cue from scripture. In Philippians Chapter 4, Paul says this: “whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”
I’m Bill Maier for WBCL.