Kids in Marin County, California traded in toy guns and violent video games for scoops of ice cream. City officials, including the District Attorney and Novato Police Department, hoped that allowing kids to turn in guns may lower violent tendencies in their futures.
The original article detailing the event gave many anecdotal accounts about the seven children who traded in toys for ice cream, but the best story out of the bunch is the comical story about the boy who turned in the only violent video game received that day.
Theodore “Teddy” Krajeski turned in his copy of Call of Duty 3 his uncle gave him for Christmas, citing he “didn’t have any use for it.” I would have to agree with the nine year old; not many of us have a use for a game that’s almost eight years old. If Call of Duty 3 were a human being, then today it would probably be in the same grade as little Teddy.
What I don’t understand about the event is that none of these parents were held accountable for the kids having these games. Since the games are rated M, only someone with an ID stating they were above 17 could have bought the games in California, unless there’s some M-rated game black market orchestrated by 7 year olds that I don’t know about. Honestly, if these officials wanted to make a huge difference, why not lock up the parents for gross negligence for allowing their kids to play these games. After all, we wouldn’t “want to have a repeat of the Andy Lopez incident.”
Which brings me to the most despicable part of the whole situation. District attorney Ed Berberian slyly ties an absolute monstrosity of a debacle to violent video games.
You see, the Andy Lopez incident (read: tragedy) refers to when 13 year old Andy Lopez was shot and killed by a Sonoma County sheriff’s deputy last year. The officer thought that the child’s airsoft gun, designed to look like an AK-47, was real. Charges were not filed against the officer, according to the article.
Accusing video games of causing violence in children is factually baseless, but blaming toys and video games for the shooting of a minor by a trained adult is completely tasteless. Trying to lessen the problem caused by a professional who hopefully went through extensive classes and training to discern between friends and foes shooting a child with an event where seven kids turn out and turn in a few toy guns and a video game sounds like trying to put a band-aid on an axe wound. And not a toy axe wound, just in case you couldn’t tell the difference.
And, while I’m sure we’ve all heard this argument a million times over, it has to be said; there is no clear link between playing violent video games and committing acts of violence. But for some reason, every time I bring up this myriad of studies supporting my claims, people on the other side of the discussion present the irrefutable anecdotal evidence of, “Yeah, but don’t you think… It just seems like it would, right?” A statement I wholeheartedly agree with — it does seem like violent video games would cause increased aggression, which is why I researched extensively if my hobby would affect my, or my future children’s, psyches.
Thankfully, there is a light at the end of this tunnel. In a sidebar poll asking, “Do toy guns and violent video games contribute to gun crimes?” the “no,” and “not likely,” sides had 65% of the vote, while the “yes,” and “possibly,” sides held 35%.
Also, please come out next week to my keep-the-kids-off-heroin event where we’ll be taking bubble pipes and candy cigarettes in exchange for violent video games.