I tend to avoid talking or writing about mass shootings or publicized crimes for a good amount of time after the fact, unlike the rest of the media, to let the dust settle so the facts reveal themselves. Yet, the tragic shooting spree at the Washington, DC Navy Yard on September 16 reignited the national conversation on gun control and the "culture of violence." Twelve lives were lost after 34-year-old Aaron Alexis began his rampage, and he subsequently lost his own life after a shootout with police.
As details about Alexis' background began to trickle out in reports, certain segments of the media turned their focus onto a recurring "warning sign" that, by their standard, revealed the true motive for the killings: an obsession with violent video games. Besides the calls for more gun control, this is the first red herring that many in the media latched on to. According to his friends, Alexis was known to have had mental health difficulties throughout his life. In turn, he spent a lot of his time playing video games like those in the Call of Duty series — sometimes in sessions of eighteen hours or more.
This, of course, means that it must be the games that caused Alexis to commit his crime. This sentiment became very clear as the days went by, exemplified by a bizarre segment on Fox & Friends on September 17. Elizabeth Hasselbeck, one of the morning show's cohosts, declared that creating a "video game registry" ought to be a priority in mass shooting prevention efforts:
“One thing that happens often in a situation as tragic as this is we start to spread blame where it possibly doesn’t belong, right?” Hasselbeck remarked. “I think we all know where the blame truly belongs, and that would be right in Alexis’ hands.”
“Are more people susceptible to playing video games?” Hasselbeck wondered. “Is there a link between a certain age group or [demographic] in 20- to 34-year-old men, perhaps, that are playing these video games and their violent actions?”
“What about frequency testing?” she added. “How often has this game been played? I’m not one to get in there and say, monitor everything, but if this, indeed, is a strong link, right, to mass killings then why aren’t we looking at frequency of purchases per person? And also, how often they’re playing and maybe they time out after a certain hour.”
Mrs. Hasselbeck herself demonstrates that she lacks knowledge on the matter, yet continues to make hasty generalizations