DSC_1560_EDITED»Phillip Swanson

More and more, every day, we hear of violent tragedies that have taken place across the U.S. Unfortunately most, if not all of them, involve guns. At this stage in human existence, gun violence is almost inescapable.

No matter how many precautions we take, no matter how much we try to create and enforce new laws, it never seems to be enough.

Now lawmakers and politicians are turning to more than just gun control acts. They are attempting to look at other problematic sources that may influence individuals to turn to guns and inflict harm on others. They have found that some of the individuals who commit these crimes have some ties to violent media.

According to Tara Palmeri of the New York Post, Adam Lanza, who murdered 27 people, most of them children, “spent hours playing violent video games such as ‘Call of Duty’’.”

Popular games like “God of War,” “Call of Duty,” “Halo” and many others all flagrantly display acts of violence and require it in order to progress further in the game.

Graphic by Christy Walker | Cartoonist

Graphic by Christy Walker | Cartoonist

Rick Nauert, a senior news editor at PsychCentral.com, claims that there is growing evidence that violence in video games will “desensitize individuals to real-life violence” and that “exposure to violent video games increases aggressive thoughts, angry feelings, physiological arousal and aggressive behaviors.”

What many have yet to bring into this equation is that almost all of these individuals have a history of mental illness. Adam Lanza had been diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome. James Eagan Holmes, the mass murderer at a movie theater in Aurora Colorado, is believed to have Dysphoric Mania.

Even past serial killers and mass murderers like Ted Bundy and John Wayne Gacy had both been diagnosed as sociopaths. These serial killers were without exposure to the violent media we have today.

Without a doubt, these diagnoses point to a deeper problem than just the superficial world of media.

Is it the video games themselves that make people want to commit these crimes? Or is it the exposure to these violent video games that make the mentally ill more likely to commit them?

Violent movies, video games and news stories reach us in some form every day. Unless there is a major change in the media that we watch, the problem that we face cannot be fully fixed.

Unfortunately, it would be almost impossible to remove violence from media. Instead, a level of discretion should be taken when allowing people to buy or view this material.

Background checks on an individual’s mental history should be done before allowing them to buy or watch such material. It would be even better if continuous background checks were done every three to four years in order to maintain a suitable level of safe viewing.

It may seem drastic, but if we are going to change things for the better we have got to look at the very root of the problem and find ways to stymie its growth. We can try to control the tools of destruction all we want, but until we look and care for the users of these tools I don’t think the problem will be resolved.

With perseverance and diligence we can make this world safe and not have to live through the tragedies that have been plaguing us.