The NRA just wasted its chance at redemption and used its highly anticipated press conference to shift the blame to video games, and insinuate about a conspiracy to downplay the role of violent media. “There exists in this country, sadly, a callous, corrupt and corrupting shadow industry that sells and stows violence against its own people,” cried NRA Vice President, Wayne LaPierre, in a fear-stoking extended rant against the media. The news media sees a lot of mea culpa press conferences, which are usually a healthy mix of humility, resolve, and a bit of ass-covering justification. The NRA’s brazen deflection on to video games will surely become a case study in what not to do.
Not five short paragraphs into his speech, the NRA laid out its plan to protect children: more guns. Specifically, hire retired security personnel to stand guard at schools. “Now, the National Rifle Association knows there are millions of qualified and active retired police, active, Reserve, and retired military, security professionals, certified firefighters, security professionals…We can immediately make America’s schools safer, relying on the brave men and women in America’s police forces.”
Then, on top of lashing out at the President and calls for gun control, LaPierre ripped into the media, calling out specific video game titles,
And here’s another dirty little truth that the media try their best to conceal. There exists in this country, sadly, a callous, corrupt and corrupting shadow industry that sells and stows violence against its own people. Through vicious, violent video games with names like ‘Bullet Storm,’ ‘Grand Theft Auto,’ ‘Mortal Combat,’ and ‘Splatterhouse.'”
While the link between video games and violence is a fair debate to be had, it was LaPierre’s abject finger-pointing that left so many stunned. “And here’s one, it’s called “Kindergarten Killers.” It’s been online for 10 years. How come my research staff can find it, and all of yours couldn’t? Or didn’t want anyone to know you had found it?” [emphasis added]
While we each have our individual viewpoints, as a tech news organization, we have no intention to take a position on gun control (I swear, I can see validity in both sides of the debate). This post is about a colossally bad press conference, the NRA’s pathological inability to take other viewpoints seriously and, just perhaps, temper some of their own policies.
For starters, Columbine high school had armed guards. We also know that gun control laws can reduce violence. Moreover, while video games may, indeed lead to more aggression in small populations, its far from clear that censorship policies would stop killers from getting violent video games or that they’d be more peaceful without them. Last, there are many nations littered with violent media, yet don’t have nearly the homicide rate of the U.S.
Maybe more guns would help, maybe they wouldn’t. But, the NRA wasn’t exactly a pillar of thoughtfulness today.
Not surprisingly, much of Twitter is a mix of shock and humor. We’ve collected some of the best responses below: