Mass School Shootings: Who Is Responsible?

A handyman recently told me that he was estranged from his teenage son because his ex wife agreed to pay half the cost of purchasing an M-15 semiautomatic rifle for the son as a graduation present if his father would pay the other half.

The handyman refused.

I thought of him Tuesday when a 15-year-old sophomore brought a nine-millimeter semiautomatic handgun to Oxford High School and in a matter of minutes had killed four fellow students and injured several more.

Good call on the part of the handyman, I thought.

Why Do Kids Want These Guns?

Then I wondered anew why teenagers want the type of gun used in 2017 in Las Vegas when Stephen Paddock, a 58-year-old gambler, killed more than 50 people and injured hundreds more who were attending a music festival.

Kyle Rittenhouse, then 17, had an AR-15 type semiautomatic rifle in 2020 when he went to Kenosha, Wisc. and ended up killing two people in self defense.

It seems obvious to me that much of the problem lies in America’s culture, which is polluted by violent video games (i.e., Mortal Kombat, Splatterhouse, Grand Theft Auto) and easy access to semiautomatic firearms.

The massive industries that churn out violent video games and semiautomatic firearms are shielded from responsibility for mass shootings by federal and state laws and our court system. But parents are not.

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Kyle Rittenhouse and Violent Video Games

What possessed Kyle Rittenhouse, a baby-faced 17-year-old, to pick up an AR-15 style rifle and head to Kenosha, Wisconsin in the first place?

There has been a lot of discussion about the harm caused by social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms to American youth but very little discussion about the role of violent videogames, where teens arm themselves with massive weaponry to maim and kill.

Rittenhouse claims he and a friend volunteered to go to Kenosha to protect a car dealership that was set upon by rioters the night before. Rittenhouse, who is now a nursing student, wore a medical kit and said he intended to provide medical care. At one point he also carried a fire extinguisher.

It all seems hopelessly naïve, but not altogether implausible for a 17-year-old teenager, especially one who testified Wednesday to playing violent video games.

Rittenhouse ended up killing two men and grievously wounding a third. He’s claiming self-defense.  Cell phone videos of the action that evening in Kenosha show Rittenhouse lying on the pavement, while protesters/rioters attacked him and attempted to wrestle the gun away from him. The only reason they didn’t succeed is because it was strapped on his shoulder.

A few decades years ago, a teenager like Rittenhouse might be working to become an Eagle Scout.

Healthline reports that more than 90 percent of kids play video games and more than 90 percent of popular games portray violence.

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