Government & Constitution

Heller: Banning, restricting shooter video games is ‘virtual gun control’

Heller: Banning, restricting shooter video games is 'virtual gun control'
Richard A. Heller

As lawmakers on Capitol Hill move to ban or restrict video games with shooters or guns, the plaintiff in the landmark gun rights Supreme Court decision warned that the effort is a backdoor attack on gun rights.

“It seems to me that going after shooter video games is a surrogate for going after real guns and real owners,” said. Richard A. Heller, whose lawsuit, Heller v. District of Columbia, overturned the capital city’s handgun ban and ushered in this current era of gun rights debate

“For too long the media and the gun grabbers have sold the idea that guns are cause of violence,” he said. “They keep failing in their attempts to outlaw guns and undermine the right to keep and bear arms, so they are going around it.”

First, liberals establish the agreement that exposure to guns and shooting, even in the virtual world of a video game, and then then work on the next step: real guns, said the veteran paratrooper of the 101st Airborne Division.

generic-first-person-shooter

Heller said another reason liberals want to restrict virtual gun rights is cultural.

“Many kids, who are never exposed to competitive shooting or hunting, become interested in guns after playing video games,” he said.

“It is kind of the same as when I was a kid and I saw a gunfight in a movie,” he said. “Just because a boy saw Jimmy Cagney or John Wayne shoot up the place didn’t mean that me or my friends would become gangsters or gunslingers—but, it did get us interested in what for me has been a lifetime passion for shooting and collecting.”

If a bill restricting role-player shooter video games, Capitol Hill staffers expect it to come from Republicans, who are under pressure “to do something.”

Earlier this year, Rep. Frank R. Wolf (R.-Va.) chaired a hearing where witnesses testified to the dangers of video games [http://www.humanevents.com/2013/03/19/84960/]. This was seen on the Hill as a direct response to the reports that the spree shooter, who Dec. 14 attacked the Sandy Hook School in Newtown, Conn., was a young man obsessed with violent video games.

Advocates of expanded background checks for gun purchases and transfers were rhetorically frustrated when gun rights advocates pointed out that the Sandy Hook shooter would not have been flagged by any the proposed background check expansion.

Making the direct connection between the shooter and video games puts forces pushing virtual gun control on firmer ground, rhetorically, at least.

In the aftermath of the Sandy Hook shooting, President Barack Obama authorized the Center for Disease Control $10 million to study the connection between players of shooter video games and gun violence. If a connection is “found,” the study will be used to justify virtual gun control legislation, banning or restricting those games. If no link is found, the study will likely not get hyped by the White House.

Dane von Breichenruchardt, the founder and president of the U.S. Bill of Rights Foundation, said any attempt to outlaw or restrict video games would run afoul of the First Amendment.

Breichenruchardt, who was the originator of the Heller case and after devising a legal argument and strategy brought it to his friend Heller, said, “I am sure there are many people, who believe that if they get rid of the video games, the violence will be reduced, I disagree.”

The civil rights advocate said there are already the routine restrictions on video games for offensive language or pornographic images, just as there are on other forms of speech.

“The First Amendment says they can make all the games they want, but it is up to parents to decide what they want their children to see,” he said. Adults should be allowed to make those decisions for themselves, not the government.

It all needs to be put into perspective, he said.

“We should not allow the government to make attempts to reduce the quality of our life to the lowest common denominator because somebody can’t behave themselves with a game or toy,” he said.

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