Alyssa Rosenberg makes excellent points on the idea that we should blame video game fantasies for violence but not the more consequential fantasies entertained by the likes of Gayle Trotter and Wayne LaPierre.
But at the same time that they were lamenting the idea of young men sitting at home working themselves up to kill by playing video games, both witnesses and senators were engaging in some of the same fantasies of heroic deployment of guns against imaginary enemies. Trotter imagined a Mr. and Mrs. Smith-like fantasy of a housewife brandishing high-caliber weapons in defense of her family: “An assault weapon in the hands of a young woman defending her babies in her home becomes a defense weapon and the peace of mind that a woman has as she’s facing three, four, five violent attackers, intruders in her home with her children screaming in the background, the peace of mind that she has knowing that she has a scary looking gun gives her more courage when she’s fighting hard and violent criminals.”
LaPierre’s fantasies justifying gun ownership were more post-apocalyptic, including dreams of a national disaster or a sudden breakdown in government, scenarios Baltimore Police Chief Jim Johnson called “scary, creepy and just not based on logic.” But Sen. Lindsey Graham backed up LaPierre’s argument, saying that the risk that “You could find yourself in a lawless environment in this country,” like the 1992 Los Angeles riots, justified the continued legality of higher-capacity magazines. […]
Maybe there’s a difference between pretending to shoot targets in Call of Duty and going to the firing range, feeling the recoil of a weapon, and learning to appreciate what Walter Kirn, in an essay for The New Republic, calls “the power over the power of the gun.” But if yesterday’s gun control hearing proved anything, it’s that you don’t need to pick up a console to fantasize about emerging a hero by using guns to kill people who you believe are victimizing you. And when it comes to setting policy, the fantasies of people like Gayle Trotter and Wayne LaPierre have far more impact in the real world in the form of things like Stand Your Ground laws than the dreams of people who pick up pixelated weapons and head off into battle.
Less formally, and with a quip, I refer to the Heroic Defender of Freedom fantasies of the Right as the Red Dawn Theory, but it’s possible my poor attempt to satirize their fantasies doesn’t adequately respect the consequences of their delusions.
If you view things like Stand Your Grand law, a law which more or less legitimizes murder, as a direct consequence of real world paranoia and fantasy, the idea that we should blame video games seems even more preposterous.
The former has tragic, real world consequences, while the latter is virtually consequence free. And my suspicion is that, if the two were to converge, and an unstable person who is already prone to violent thoughts begins entertaining both fantasies, that’s the only case you could say video games may have had an influence on their actions in an indirect sense and after the fact. It’s far less tangible and loose than the direct line that’s easily drawn from Doomsday paranoia to laws that enshrine gun fetishism.
Of course all of this speculation would be for naught if we didn’t have over 300 million guns in circulation in this country. It’s simply far too easy to obtain one. Or two. Or a dozen.