The Violent Video Games the NRA Didn't Blame
A screen grab from the 'No Russian' level of 'Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2.'
In a news conference today (Dec. 21), National Rifle Association Executive Vice President and Chief Executive Officer Wayne LaPierre blamed video-game studio and publishers for helping to create "genuine monsters" like Adam Lanza, the 20-year-old who killed 20 first-graders with an assault rifle in Newtown, Conn., last week.
"There exists in this country, sadly, a callous, corrupt and corrupting shadow industry that sells and stows violence against its own people," LaPierre said.
LaPierre gave five examples of "vicious, violent video games": "Bulletstorm," "Grand Theft Auto," "Mortal Kombat" and "Splatterhouse," plus the obscure Flash-based online game "Kindergarten Killer."
But there's one kind of violent video game LaPierre didn't mention at all. Those would be military-themed shooters, such as the best-selling "Call of Duty" and "Medal of Honor" series, as well as the Pentagon-produced "America's Army."
Unlike the games LaPierre did name, the military shooters exalt American soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines, and the targets being shot at are Nazis, Russians, terrorists and zombies.
Retired service members serve as paid consultants to the game makers, who strive to make the weaponry depicted as true-to-life as possible. Active-duty members of Navy SEAL Team Six were punished last month for consulting on "Medal of Honor: Warfighter."
And, as mentioned, the U.S. Army produces and distributes "America's Army" itself as a recruiting and training tool.
Yet such games are not without controversy. "Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2," released in 2009, contains an optional level called "No Russian" which realistically depicts a massacre of unarmed civilians in a Russian airport.
In the "No Russian" level, the playable character is an undercover CIA agent who has infiltrated a terrorist group and must take part in the massacre. The player can shoot and kill non-playable civilian characters, although no points are awarded for doing so and no points are deducted for not firing a weapon.
Anders Behring Breivik, the Norwegian spree killer who shot 69 people, mostly teenagers, in July 2011, later testified at his own trial that he used "Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2" to train himself to use holographic weapon sights.
So why didn't LaPierre mention the single game that has been conclusively linked to an incident of mass killing, not to mention an entire category that trains players in the proper handling and use of military-grade weapons?
The NRA did not immediately respond to a request for comment.