United States Representative Ted Lieu, D-CA 33rd District, criticizes retailer Walmart for removing advertisements for violent video games from its stores. The retailer, which also sells guns, had removed the advertisements following several deadly mass shootings that took place in the US, with one shooting taking place in a Walmart.
On Twitter, Lieu identified some flaws in the suggestion that violent video games cause mass shootings. The politician asked if Walmart remembers when Mario Kart made people drive faster, Pac-Man caused people to eat more, and Fortnite was the reason for the shooting at the Walmart store in El Paso, TX. Lieu said that by "making up stupid sh-t," Walmart disrespects the victims of these mass shootings, also telling the retailer to "stop blaming video games." Lieu's tweet has more than 26,000 retweets and more than 100,000 likes.
Lieu isn't the only one who has taken issue with Walmart's decision. After the decision to remove the video game ads went public, the hashtag #BoycottWalmart began to trend on Twitter as more than 30,000 tweets were posed by people criticizing the retailer and saying they would no longer shop there. Several of the boycott tweets slammed Walmart for removing video game ads while it still sells guns, while some also called the retailer's decision "embarrassing."
Dear @Walmart, remember how:— Ted Lieu (@tedlieu) August 9, 2019
Mario Kart caused people to drive faster?
Pac-Man caused folks to eat more?
Fortnite radicalized a white supremacist to shoot Hispanics at your store?
You disrespect the victims of mass shootings by making up stupid shit. Stop blaming video games. https://t.co/NEnqg38GbT
Don’t be confused by us asking our teams to be sensitive about violent images on the sales floor right after innocent people were murdered at our store. We’re not suggesting this is the answer to gun violence. https://t.co/meDZvqduSP— Dan Bartlett (@danbartlett6) August 9, 2019
Dan Bartlett, Walmart's executive vice president, has explained the decision to remove the video game ads from stores. In a tweet, Bartlett told people not to "be confused by us asking our teams to be sensitive about violent images on the sales floor right after innocent people were murdered at our store." The Walmart EVP also said that the company isn't "suggesting that this is the answer to gun violence."
Walmart may not have done this for sensitivity reasons, but many gamers have accused the retailer of submitting to those who say that violent video games are why so many mass shootings happen. Several of Representative Lieu's colleagues, such as President Trump, have blamed violent games for the domestic terror attacks. There are suggestions that by doing this, Walmart is lending these accusations legitimacy.
There have been many studies that confirm that violent video games aren't to blame for mass shootings, but there are many who disagree. There are also plenty of gamers who are defending games, with "video games aren't to blame" also trending on Twitter. It seems unlikely that this debate is going to go away soon.