Republican officials point to video games after El Paso mass shooting

After a mass shooting in El Paso, Texas, left 20 people dead, Republican officials partially blamed the attacks of terror on violent video games.

“How long are we going to let, for example, and ignore at the federal level particularly, where they can do something about the video game industry,” Texas Lt. Gov Dan Patrick said Sunday on “Fox & Friends,” condemning the attack as “evil.”

The shooting occurred Saturday morning, when a gunman identified as Patrick Crusius, a 21-year-old from Allen, Texas, opened fire at a packed Walmart near the Cielo Vista Mall in El Paso with an assault rifle, killing 20 people and wounding dozens. Officials on Sunday declared the attack an act of “domestic terrorism."

Another mass shooting occurred early Sunday morning in Dayton, Ohio, and left 10 people dead, including the suspected gunman. Details are still emerging about both attacks.

A hate-filled “manifesto,” as police called it, published online before the El Paso shooting, has been linked to Crusius. Although El Paso police authorities have not confirmed if the shooter wrote the 2,300-word anti-immigrant tirade, the police chief there said they are examining it as “a nexus to potential hate crime.”

Dan Patrick
Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick. (Photo: Loren Elliott/Getty Images)

On “Fox & Friends,” Patrick noted the document’s apparent reference to the video game “Call of Duty.” (From the document: “Don’t attack heavily guarded areas to fulfill your super soldier COD fantasy. Attack low security targets.”)

“In this manifesto that we believe is from the shooter … he talks about living out his super soldier fantasy on ‘Call of Duty,’” Patrick said.

“We’ve always had guns. We’ve always had evil. But what’s changed where we see this rash of shooting?” he continued, calling violent video games “the common denominator.”

“I see a video game industry that teaches young people to kill,” he said.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy also pointed to violent video games Sunday and said they “may be a place where we could find this ahead of time.”

“The idea of these video games, they dehumanize individuals to have a game of shooting individuals and others,” he said in a Fox News interview. “When you look at these photos of how [the El Paso shooting] took place, you can see the actions within video games and others.”

Similarly, to address gun violence in the U.S. after the Sandy Hook elementary school shooting, then-President Barack Obama in 2013 urged Congress to support a bill that would give the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention a budget of $10 million to conduct a study on “the effects violent video games have on young minds.”

After the Parkland, Fla., school shooting last year, President Trump met with several video game executives and Republican lawmakers in a private White House meeting to “explore new restrictions on the video game industry, arguing that violent games might have contributed to mass shootings,” the Washington Post reported at the time.

But a study conducted earlier this year by researchers at the Oxford Internet Institute found no relationship between aggressive behavior in teenagers and the amount of time spent playing violent video games. And nations that consume just as much, if not more, video games than the U.S. experience far lower murder rates.

Other than video games, Patrick also cited “the violence of just bullying people on social media every day” and took issue with the lack of prayers in school.

“Tomorrow we won’t let our kids even pray in our schools,” he said. “We have to look at ourselves as a nation. There are many factors that go into these shootings, many factors. And it’s not a time to politicize, it’s a time to look deep inside of who we are as a country where we no longer salute our flag or throw water on law enforcement.”

Meanwhile, Democratic presidential candidates condemned the El Paso attack as white nationalist terrorism and linked it to Trump’s rhetoric. The so-called manifesto expressed concerns about “losing Texas and a few other states with heavy Hispanic population to the Democrats,” and declared the attack “a response to the Hispanic invasion of Texas.” Trump has repeatedly decried migrant caravans from Central America as an “invasion.”

The four-page screed appeared to draw on the ideology of the “Great Replacement,” a theory that dark-skinned people are becoming a majority in Europe, the United States and other white majority countries.

For his part, Trump tweeted that the shooting in El Paso was "an act of cowardice," saying, “I know that I stand with everyone in this Country to condemn today’s hateful act. There are no reasons or excuses that will ever justify killing innocent people.”


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