In a controversial diatribe last Friday, Wayne LaPierre, CEO of the National Rifle Association, blamed lax security, natural disasters, and, most of all, violent video games for the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT that claimed 27 lives. Despite the NRA’s public condemnation of violent entertainment, the New York Times explains, the gun industry is closely entwined with the gaming industry.
In one recent example of this relationship, the gaming company behind the Medal of Honor series launched a promotional website with links to the catalogs of two major gun manufacturers:
Links on the Medal of Honor site allowed visitors to click through on the Web sites of the game’s partners and peruse their catalogs.
“It was almost like a virtual showroom for guns,” said Ryan Smith, who contributes to the Gameological Society, an online gaming magazine. After Mr. Smith and other gaming enthusiasts criticized the site, Electronic Arts disabled the links, saying it had been unaware of them.
Gun manufacturers also grant video game companies licenses to depict real makes and models of weapons. Though these games are now taking heat from the gun lobby for encouraging violent behavior, they continue to serve as a valuable marketing tool for the industry.
The NRA’s scapegoating of virtual reality seems to be an attempt to deflect calls for more robust gun safety measures. Despite the NRA’s claims, there is no correlation between violent video games and violent behavior in real life. There is, however, ample evidence that societies with more guns have more gun violence.