The recent mass shootings in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio have sent shockwaves throughout the United States, reigniting not only the gun control debate, but also the debate about whether or not video games cause violence. Retail giant Walmart was the location of the El Paso shooting, and its decision to pull marketing materials for violent games (and other violent media), while still selling guns, has seen it widely criticized online.
#BoycottWalmart is currently trending on Twitter, with over 30,000 tweets carrying the hashtag. Looking through the various Twitter threads about the controversy, it seems many are calling for a Walmart boycott due to it removing the marketing displays for violent video games, while still selling guns. Walmart has said that it has done this out of respect for the victims of gun violence, but some feel as though it is Walmart legitimizing the argument that video game violence played a role in the mass shootings.
Shortly after the shootings, some politicians were quick to put the blame on video game violence, including President Donald Trump. This has upset some people who feel as though this is a way to distract from the real problems that motivated the shooters, like racism. Politicians on the opposite side of the aisle have pushed back against the idea that video game violence caused the shootings, as have various video game company executives.
So after a mass shooting occurs, Wal-Mart decides the proper response is to remove "violent" video game displays but continue the sales of guns and ammunition??? Are you kidding me?!?!??! Take the biggest of L's for this Wal-Mart. #BoycottWalmart pic.twitter.com/QqhnTMV5Mh— Dashni Yoyo (@DiscipleDashni) August 9, 2019
I'll be buying back-to-school supplies for my kids soon, but those don't include bulletproof backpacks, guns, or clips.— BrooklynDad_Defiant! (@mmpadellan) August 9, 2019
The decision by Walmart to pull violent video games but NOT guns from shelves misses the point of gun violence ENTIRELY.
Y’all really trying to convince ppl that video games are the issue? Embarrassing #BoycottWalmart— HotBarb Bre 🔥 (@BriBreIsHerName) August 9, 2019
Take-Two Interactive CEO Strauss Zelnick said that blaming video games and media for the shootings was "irresponsible" and "disrespectful." Former Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aime also spoke out against Trump's anti-video game comments, as did the Entertainment Software Association itself.
Trump suggested in his speech that there could be regulation on violent video games and media as a result of the most recent shootings. Trump appears to have downplayed that possibility since then, but the idea of regulating video game violence seems to have caused quite the stir. It remains to be seen if any legislation looking to regulate violent media will come to pass, but as of the time of this writing, nothing has been presented just yet.
Video games are protected under the first amendment, and it's unlikely that any actual government regulation will be put into place. In the meantime, it will be interesting to see how Walmart reacts to the boycott, or if it decides to move forward with removing violent marketing material from its stores.
Image Source: Wikimedia Commons