In his response to the weekend’s mass shootings in Ohio and Texas, US President Donald Trump condemned “grisly video games”, and the effect they have on “troubled youth”. Trump did not expand on his plans besides saying that “It is too easy today for troubled youth to surround themselves with a culture that celebrates violence. We must stop or substantially reduce this.”
This weekend saw two separate mass shootings in the US. The first, in El Paso, Texas, took place in a Walmart on Saturday morning. Twenty people were killed and a further 26 were injured. Then on Sunday, another shooter killed nine people and injured 27 more in Dayton, Ohio.
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Speaking at the White House earlier today, Trump gave a statement on the number of factors he believes played a role in the shooting, including video games, mental illness, white supremacy, and the internet.
“Our nation must condemn racism, bigotry, and white supremacy,” Trump said. “These sinister ideologies must be defeated. Hate has no place in America.” In a manifesto published by the shooter in El Paso, he claimed the attack was “a response to the Hispanic invasion of Texas” and that his views “predate Trump” – not wanting his racism to be confused with Trump’s.
Trump also cited “the perils of the internet and social media,” saying that “the internet has provided a dangerous avenue to radicalise disturbed minds”. He said that he is directing “the Department of Justice to work in partnership with local, state, and federal agencies as well as social media companies to develop tools that can detect mass shooters before they strike”.
Part of that detection, it appears, is also to be directed at people with mental health issues. “We must reform our mental health laws to better identify mentally disturbed individuals who may commit acts of violence and make sure these people not only get treatment but, when necessary, involuntary confinement,” Trump said.
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As to gun law reform, Trump said “Mental illness and hatred pulls the trigger, not the gun.” So, he will be pushing to “make sure that those judged to post a grave risk to public safety do not have access to firearms and that if they do, those firearms can be taken through rapid due process. That is what I have called for red flag laws. Also known as extreme risk protection orders.”
President Barack Obama tried to push through legislation limiting access to guns for people with mental illnesses and that gun reform was voted down by congress. It will be interesting to see if Trump is able to get that through the house.
Considering Trump was explicit in how he wanted to proceed with legislation in many of the topics during his speech, his plan for video games is unclear. Why was it mentioned? Will there be legislation against games proposed? Was he simply mentioning it to appeal to his base? We’ll know in the coming weeks.