Opinion

MCINTOSH: Think Taking Charlton Heston’s Gun Would Be Tough? Try Taking Video Games From Millennials

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David McIntosh Club for Growth

To young people, trying to ban video games is like banning baseball or apple pie. However, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and a small number of fellow Republicans are floating just that misguided response to a series of horrific mass shootings.

“To have a game of shooting individuals and others, I’ve always felt that is a problem for future generations and others,” McCarthy told Fox News.

Instead of being a leader in the party of restraint and limited government, McCarthy sounds an awful lot like Hillary Clinton, who claimed, “We need to treat violent video games the way we treat tobacco, alcohol, and pornography,” and sponsored legislation that would have effectively banned the sale of many video games to children.

It turns out blaming video games is a red herring; reams of research show no link whatsoever between video games and real-world violence.

“Scant evidence has emerged that makes any causal or correlational connection between playing violent video games and actually committing violent activities,” American Psychological Association said in a policy statement. “Correlational and longitudinal studies of youth suggest that violent video game exposure does not meaningfully predict youth physical aggression or violent crime.”

Research actually shows that whenever very popular violent video games come out, there’s actually a small decrease in violent crime.

“There are no longitudinal studies that show a link between violence and video games,” Benjamin Burroughs, a professor of media at the University of Nevada, told The Los Angeles Times. “Certainly, there is no linkage to gun violence.”

Analyses of perpetrators of mass homicide perpetrators by the U.S. Secret Service concluded that school shooters actually tended to consume relatively low amounts of violent media compared to their peers.

In the absence of any data linking video games to crime and mass shootings, there is no justification for depriving people of the freedom to play video games. Banning them or imposing new regulations on this industry merely creates economic harm without the asserted social benefits.

America’s youth don’t agree with either Hillary Clinton or Republican congressional leadership, and they certainly won’t surrender their video games to the nanny state.

It is sometime said that there are two types of millennials: 1) Those who admit they’re gamers, and 2) those who lie about it. The sheer number of gamers and the strategic idiocy of attacking them is enormous.

After all, video games are a staple of many young voters’ lives.

A Pew Research study found that 67 percent of respondents age 18 to 29 play video games and 22 percent identify as “gamers.” A formidable 71 percent of millennial gamers watch videos about gaming on platforms like YouTube and Twitch, spending an average of almost six hours per week doing just that, according to Nielsen. American millennials spend an average of $112 a month on gaming, and at least some of that money could easily be redirected to opposing anti-gaming candidates by millions of potential voters.

But millennials aren’t the only ones who will turn on the GOP if it attempts to ban America’s new favorite pastime. In 2015, Pew also found that 81 percent of teenagers, many of whom will be eligible to vote in 2020, own or can access a gaming console.

Imagine who those millions of millennials and teenagers will vote for in the future, if the self-proclaimed party of freedom announces a crackdown on such an important part of their lives. All this at a time when Republicans are poised to start winning millennial voters, who are drastically more conservative than their parents were at the same point in life. The data contradicts a common media narrative of millennials as extreme liberals who the GOP should give up on. At the Club for Growth we haven’t given up fighting for freedom — especially for the next generation.

If McCarthy’s vision were followed it would be like campaigning on a platform of banning NFL football, NBA basketball, and MLB baseball —  combined — to previous generations.

David McIntosh (@DavidMMcintosh) is president of Club for Growth, a nonprofit group that advocates for limited government. He represented Indiana in the United States House from 1995-2001 and is a co-founder of the Federalist Society.


The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.