Sandy Hook Shooter Linked to Violent 'Call of Duty' Games, Sparking Debate
As the media and authorities work to piece together the biography of Adam Lanza, the gunman in the Newtown, Conn., school shooting, a new report says the 20-year-old spent hours in a windowless basement playing the first-person shooter game Call of Duty.
Peter Wlasuk, a plumber who worked for Lanza's mother, told the U.K.'s Sun newspaper that the shooter played the violent video game while surrounded by posters of guns used throughout U.S. military history.
"I’m not blaming the games for what happened," he told the newspaper, "but they see a picture of a historical gun and say, 'I’ve used that on Call of Duty.' "
Call of Duty is a franchise of war games that feature stealth operatives in combat zones. The most recent title, Black Ops 2, was released in November and cleared more than $1 billion in sales in its first two weeks.
Lanza, who many claim had a history of mental illness, has become the latest flash point in the public debate over mass violence and its causes. The shooting, which was carried out with a semi-automatic rifle, has led to renewed calls for increased gun control measures, with President Obama, many members of Congress, media members and Hollywood actors adding their support. Yet many are pointing to both deficient mental health care and violence in society, especially from video games and films, as additional factors that must be addressed.
In a tweet this weekend, Obama aide David Axelrod wrote, "In NFL post-game: an ad for shoot ‘em up video game. All for curbing weapons of war. But shouldn’t we also quit marketing murder as a game?”
But whether video games are a direct cause of violence is up for debate; a new study of 10 countries shows that there appears to be no correlation between gaming and the number of mass shootings in a nation.