NRA takes aim at violent video games, culture

The NRA asks why the US media isn't as outraged at violence in pop culture as it is in gun ownership

The U.S. National Rifle Association broke a week-long silence on Friday to provide its first comments after a mass killing at a Connecticut school and sought to put some of the blame for American gun violence on video games.

Following the shooting, in which a gun-wielding man shot dead 26 people, most of them young children, there have been increasing calls for something to be done about gun violence in the U.S. Earlier this week, President Barack Obama appointed Vice President Joe Biden to investigate legislative measures that could be taken to help stem the growing number of mass shootings and other gun crime.

Biden has until the end of January to provide some recommendations and appears set to look at not just gun control but violence in U.S. pop culture and how the country treats its mentally ill.

On Friday, the president of the NRA argued against stricter gun controls, then turned his focus on the media and entertainment industries.

"And here's another dirty little truth that the media try their best to conceal: There exists in this country a callous, corrupt and corrupting shadow industry that sells, and sows, violence against its own people," NRA President Wayne LaPierre said in the televised news conference. "Through vicious, violent video games with names like 'Bulletstorm,' 'Grand Theft Auto,' 'Mortal Kombat' and 'Splatterhouse.' "

He then turned to two large flat-screen monitors and began playing scenes from a video game entitled "Kindergarten Killer."

The software, a crude Flash game from 2002, is easy to find once you know the name. It involves playing the role of a school janitor and shooting young children who themselves have guns.

"You begin your killing spree, first killing the kindergarten teacher. But then for some unknown reason the kids pull out their own guns!" reads the game's instructions as the player enters level one. "They're outnumbering you, so kill them off and get you of the halls quick! However, you still want to keep your plans of killing the head of the kindergarten, so get to the tower block where his office is. But be careful, those pesky kids are everywhere."

"It's been online for 10 years. How come my research department could find it and all of yours either couldn't or didn't want anyone to know you had found it?" he said, addressing the reporters in the room.

LaPierre also criticized violent movies and music videos.

"And then [the media] have the nerve to call it 'entertainment.' But is that what it really is? Isn't fantasizing about killing people as a way to get your kicks really the filthiest form of pornography?" he said.

The "Kindergartner Killer" game, shocking as its premise is, appears to be a game of minor popularity, simply programmed, that few have probably heard about.

The much more famous titles, like those mentioned by LaPierre, are likely to get more attention.

One of the most popular franchises, Activision's "Call of Duty," outsells most Hollywood movies. The most recent installment of the game, which typically puts the player as a soldier fighting other soliders, racked up sales of US$1 billion in its first 16 days on the market.

Martyn Williams covers mobile telecoms, Silicon Valley and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Martyn on Twitter at @martyn_williams. Martyn's e-mail address is martyn_williams@idg.com

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