Daily Reaction: Senator Gets Funded by NRA, Scapegoats Games Over Guns

When atrocities occur that shock everyone, the likelihood for members of the media or political office to capitalize on the world’s grief is simply grotesque. Still pushing the hot debate of child safety, Lamar Alexander, a Senator from Tennessee, has called video games a bigger problem than gun control. With that, the Daily Reaction crew of Seb and Dan discuss the nature of the current political atmosphere, and the problems of societal views of gamer lifestyle.

Dan: In a recent interview with MSNBC, US Senator Lamar Alexander said (as reported by GI.biz):

I’m going to wait and see on all of these bills. I think video games [are] a bigger problem than guns, because video games affect people. But the First Amendment limits what we can do about videogames and the Second Amendment to the Constitution limits what we can do about guns. So the details matter to me. I’m going to be skeptical of any of these proposals and examine them in light of the Second Amendment to the Constitution.

If you watch the interview, you will see MSNBC correspondent Chuck Todd question Senator Alexander regarding gun regulation (1:50), and how he feels regarding the propositions for gun trafficking and universal background checks. But, instead of answering the question on gun control, the Senator immediately diverts the attention to video games being a bigger problem, a factor that was not even a part of the initial question.

As sad as it seems, videogames are now being grouped in on any level politicians can find as a method to divert attention away from legislation against gun owners. Given the US constitutional rights to both have freedom of speech (First Amendment) and the right to bear arms (Second  Amendment), the power struggle between the two is rather about which can become the bigger scapegoat to satisfy the masses. Sadly, as was blatantly stated by Senator Alexander, he seems to focus more on examining the upcoming proposals to protect the Second Amendment, which leaves our right to freedom of speech unacknowledged and to some extent less important.

Being very much for the right to bear arms, as well as my right to make an idiot of myself to the world, I feel these views come from people who barely understand what either really mean anymore. Senator Alexander was born and raised in Tennessee, a state where, in 2007, 43.9% of its population were gun owners, obviously a statistic to show the prominence of guns in that region. Given the age of Senator Alexander, and his current views on the medium, I really doubt he has much hands on experience of what being a gamer means, nor a real grasp of the context for the more controversial material. This mixture of the bias of coming from a gun culture, to having little to no,supposed knowledge of the competing topic for debate, really is a disservice to the nation and the people who elected him. As a representative, personal views are not meant to be the driving force to redirect blame, or accomplish an agenda, they are more to fuel passions about protecting ALL of our rights and to understand we each value things differently.

Seb: Well this is depressing, yet not at all surprising. Here’s the problem with any government run by humans – money is always the most important factor. Where does Lamar’s money come from? The Federal Election Commission and Center for Responsive Politics show that tens of thousands of dollars have been given donated to Lamar by the National Rifle Association. Further research also shows contributions by Guardsmark, one of the largest security companies in the world, who employs more ex-FBI agents than any other private firm.

The NRA, in particular, are incredibly politicized. They spend millions lobbying, donating and advertising to push their pro-gun agenda, while games companies obviously spend far, far less.

The problem is, it doesn’t matter if the NRA have a point and that people should have guns – I’m not even going to go into that – but because the NRA is funding politicians and running smear campaigns against their enemies, there is an incredible bias among some politicians and media outlets. Their aim is to not focus on guns, not to spend any time discussing whether it is a problem or an unalienable right. Rather, they want to distract, change focus and find some kind of evil bogeyman that can soak up the anger while they saunter off, laughing merrily at the confusion they have wrought.

First it was comic books and movies, then rap music, then movies again. Then it was computer games, then the internet, and now we’re back to games again. It’s a sad state of affairs that highlights just how broken we are as a culture – if the companies financing everything are big enough, they can control the focus of the agenda.

Perhaps we, as gamers, need to become more politicized. People running for office are very careful about openly attacking those they think have power, or represent a large proportion of voters. A considerable proportion of the US population plays games on a console, and have gaming as a major part of their life, just as there are those that go hunting/shooting as a pastime. But they have no political voice. Hollywood learned the hard way, and now actively and aggressively lobbies politicians and governments. Game publishers need to come together to do this more effectively.

Equally, we need to show that idiots spouting off statements that highlight how out of touch they are with modern society is a serious turn-off when it comes to deciding who to vote for. Video games might not necessarily be as key an issue as healthcare or education, but if a politician is able to make such clearly ignorant statements about games, you have to wonder what else he is ignorant about. Looking at Alexander in particular, you also have to wonder – if he seems to be ‘influenced’ by NRA donations when it comes to guns, how trustworthy are his healthcare proposals when he has received truly astronomical funds from pharmaceutical companies?

This is a man elected to serve the people in an extremely high position. This is a man who cannot be trusted. This is a man whose every action should be questioned and scrutinized.

A politicized game industry would be able to do that, and would be a more effective deterrent to those that think games are an easy thing to blame because there’s no one to defend them.

What do you think we need to do as a society of gamers to protect our own interests? Do we need a NGA (National Gamers Association) to lobby for us? Are we really as big of a cultural problem as some politicians believe? Make sure to leave us your wall of text below, and be sure to let everyone know you want Seb and Dan to head the NGA by tweeting us your vote.

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