Former Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich revisited some old arguments on Wednesday when he blamed the Dec. 14 Sandy Hook shooting on the separation of church and state and the proliferation of violent video games during a radio interview.
According to Think Progress, the former House Speaker told radio host Brian Thomas, “When you have an anti-religious, secular bureaucracy and secular judiciary seeking to drive God out of public life, something fills the vacuum. And that something, you know, I don’t know that going from communion to playing war games in which you practice killing people is necessarily an improvement.”
Gingrich also cited this year’s high murder rate in Chicago as proof of his argument. The magazine Red Eye has reported a total 490 homicides in the city thru Monday, with a high of 57 in August that included the shooting of 19 people on Aug. 23. Last month, however, police there announced that the city’s overall crime rate had decreased 10 percent this year compared to 2011.
Some community leaders in Chicago have blamed the increase in shootings on a lack of resources in the neighborhoods most affected by the violence. CNN reported earlier this month that at least one program, the Neighborhood Recovery Initiative, had been scaled back and audited in the wake of the city’s violent summer.
Thomas then cited a Microsoft study showing that people had played 5 million hours of the best-selling Halo video game series to support Gingrich’s assertion that more people these days considered their fellow Americans objects.
“That’s 5 million hours, I would say, that have been completely wasted,” Thomas said. “Has nothing to do with God, religion, understanding, even connection with other human beings, playing guitar and singing with them. It is complete disassociation and connection from fellow man.”
As Think Progress noted, Gingrich made similar accusations after the 2007 mass shooting at Virginia Tech University. But a report released Tuesday by The Washington Post showed that increased video gameplay actually led to a decrease in violence.
“So, what have we learned? That video game consumption, based on international data, does not seem to correlate at all with an increase in gun violence,” the Post reported. “That countries where video games are popular also tend to be some of the world’s safest (probably because these countries are stable and developed, not because they have video games). And we also have learned, once again, that America’s rate of firearm-related homicides is extremely high for the developed world.”
Listen to a Gingrich’s remarks, posted on Soundcloud Wednesday by Think Progress, below.