Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Virginia Tech, another Jack Thompson stepping stone

The smoke had barely cleared from the horrific scene at Virginia Tech University, and already attorney Jack Thompson pointed his finger at violent videogames.

As the nation mourns the death of 32 students and faculty, killed Monday in the largest mass shooting in U.S. history, it's important, more than ever, to keep our eye on the ball. The killer, identified as Cho Seung-Hui, purchased a Glock 9mm pistol in March for $571. The 23 year old answered no to a series of simple questions, used a credit card, and walked away armed.

It doesn't matter how many games Cho played in his life. He pulled the trigger. He is accountable.

Just hours after the shooting, Thompson appeared on Fox News and claimed that killers in past school shootings have used violent games such as Doom and Grand Theft Auto: Vice City to effectively "rehearse" their own crimes. Many of these shooters played games, yes, but their problems ran far deeper.

Yesterday, school-shooter Evan Ramsey blamed videogames for his own violent crimes. In 1997, then 16, Ramsey killed a student and a principal at his high school in Bethel, Alaska. In an interview yesterday with CNN, Ramsey told Anderson Cooper that he didn't understand that if you shoot someone, "they probably won't get up." Videogames, Ramsey said, taught him that people do get up.

Cooper did not disclose Ramsey's well-documented history that his father went to prison when he was 7, his mother was an alcoholic, he was sexually abused and spent much of his childhood in foster homes. Again, his problems ran far deeper than playing violent videogames.

The common denominator for Ramsey, Cho and Columbine suspects Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris is not videogames. It is serious emotional distress. It is the being able to easily obtain firearms.

My thoughts are with the families and friends of the victims at Virginia Tech. In the meantime, Thompson will use this tragedy to continue his crusade against violent videogames. I only wish Thompson were as opposed to current gun laws as he is to videogames -- maybe he can help. It should take a lot more than five minutes and five hundred dollars to buy a gun.


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