On Friday, NRA head Wayne LaPierre listed the things he thinks contribute to gun violence in this country. Guns didn’t make the list. But one of the main culprits was the video game industry, which he called “a callous, corrupt and corrupting shadow industry that sells and stows violence against its own people.”
Perhaps he forgot that the NRA has partnered with the so-called “shadow industry” to produce a few gun-toting video games of its own, including “NRA Gun Club, ” “NRA High Power Competition” and “NRA Varmint Hunter.”
“The game puts over one hundred faithfully recreated firearms in the hands of the player,” reads the description of “NRA Gun Club.”
To be fair, none of the NRA-backed video games are violent in the way that “God of War” or “Manhunt” are violent. Players shoot either inanimate targets at a shooting range or “varmint,” not people.
Because of that distinction, the NRA video games don’t contradict LaPierre’s statements within the universe of NRA logic, where gun owners all know the difference between responsible and irresponsible gun use.
But, aside from sounding like the most boring video games ever, games about shooting guns at target practice encapsulate an essential disconnect in the NRA logic of guns being good, even though gun violence is bad. They assume that you can spark a love for shooting in a teenager, and then expect them to responsibly limit themselves to shooting at paper targets.
The NRA expects kids to draw the distinction between "‘shooting inanimate objects with guns is cool"’ and "guns are cool."’
It’s just foolish to think that they can promote gun enthusiasm with one video game, and expect it not to translate to other, more exciting video games, which, they believe, lead to violence in real life.
If the NRA really believes that violent video games lead to violence in real life, they can’t have it both ways. They can’t promote video game shooting, and make money off of it, and then stand back and self-righteously claim that the specter of a corrupt gaming industry is to blame for violence but that their own hands are clean.