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Video games and shooting: Is the NRA right?

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For example, a 2008 report by researchers at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital funded by the US Department of Justice found that violent video games may increase bullying or physical fighting in schools, but not mass gun violence.

“It's clear that the ‘big fears’ bandied about in the press – that violent video games make children significantly more violent in the real world; that they will engage in the illegal, immoral, sexist and violent acts they see in some of these games – are not supported by the current research, at least in such a simplistic form,” the report states.

Joan Saab, director of the visual and cultural studies program at the University of Rochester in New York, says the gaming industry should share in the blame for promoting military weaponry to young people, but adds that the popularity of such games reflect the “larger culture we live in, which is heavily militarized,” in the midst of lengthy combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Ms. Saab says that the NRA’s call for armed guards in schools would make that kind of military culture more pervasive for children.

“If there are more armed guards in schools, kids are exposed to more guns. That’s when fantasy and reality aren’t blurred. When there are guns in schools, it becomes real life and the day-to-day environment becomes more dangerous than the game,” she says. In Newtown, as in Aurora, Colo. and the sites of other mass shootings, the gunman was outfitted in military-style dress.

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