Do video games cause shootouts or no
Are violent video games a better explanation for school shootings than having access to guns?
This is a very controversial issue and both sides have to choose numerous studies to support their side. While searching for scientific articles (as opposed to blog posts), I came across a couple that I believe are relevant, well-sourced, managed, and impartial.
Harvard University released a report in October 2010. Some important points:
- Much of the research into violent video games has relied on measures to assess aggression that do not correlate with real-world violence. Some studies are observational and do not prove cause and effect.
- According to federal crime statistics, serious violent crimes among young people have declined since 1996, although video game sales have risen sharply.
- Parents can protect children from potential harm by restricting the use of video games and taking other precautions.
An important point (focus on mine):
Other researchers have questioned the link between violent use of video games and school shootings as well found that most young offenders had personality traits such as anger, psychosis, and aggression that were evident before the shootings and predisposed them to violence .
The Michigan Youth Violence Prevention Center also speaks of a more nuanced view. While they support a link between violent video games and aggressive behavior, this doesn't translate well to school shootings. Without easy access to weapons, this aggressive behavior is limited to giving study participants extra hot sauce or bullying at school. They conclude with:
Finally, most researchers would agree that violent behavior is determined by many factors that can be combined in different ways for different teens. These factors affect neighborhoods, families, peers, and individual traits and behaviors. For example, researchers have found that living in a violent neighborhood and experiencing violence as a victim or witness is linked to an increased risk of violent behavior among adolescents. However, this factor alone cannot cause someone to become violent, and most people who live in such a neighborhood do not become violent offenders. Similarly, researchers have consistently found that exposure to domestic violence (e.g., spouse and child abuse, fights, and conflict) increases the risk of violent behavior in adolescents, but does not necessarily result in violent children. Similarly, researchers have found that first-person killing of video games is associated with an increased risk of violent behavior, but not always. Constant exposure to violence from multiple sources, including violent first-person video games, with no positive factors to help cushion those negative exposures, is likely to increase the likelihood of adolescents behaving violently.
Despite disagreements about the exact nature of the relationship between violent video game play and violent or aggressive behavior, there is significant evidence linking video game play to violent behavior and its correlates. While we are somewhat agnostic about the role of social controls such as laws banning the sale of violent video games to minors, an argument against such social controls based on the conclusion that the video games are ineffective seems too strong on the problem to simplify. A deeper and more critical analysis of the problem from different perspectives can both help to better understand the causes and correlates of youth violence, as well as give us a direction for creative solutions to this persistent social problem.
I also found this page describing both sides of the problem side by side. One surprising item on the list:
Gun violence is less common in countries with high video game usage. Per capita video game sales were US $ 5.20 and Japan US $ 47. In 2005, the United States had 2,279 teenage homicides (27.9 per million) compared to 73 in Japan (3.1 per million).    A study of the countries representing the top 10 video game markets internationally found no association between video games and gun-related killings.  Although gun violence is high in the US, the other nine countries with the highest video game usage have some of the lowest violent crime rates (and eight of these countries spend more per capita on video games than the US). 
As an aside, video games cause violence is not directly related to mass shootings except as a post hoc argument.
And in this entire debate, the notable outlier statistic is the ease and proliferation of weapons in the United States. All other countries have similar (or even higher) rates of violent video game use, mental illness, or whatever the pro-gun lobby claims to blame for it.
Source for the plot: an article on the Washington Post
Source for the plot: a scientific paper on the Lancet, one of the world's most renowned scientific journals for medicine. Access to the paper is free but requires registration on the Lancet website.
Source for the plot: This archived website citing multiple Wikipedia sources http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_firearm-related_death_ratehttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Number_of_guns_per_capita_by_countryhttp://en.wipedia.org / wiki / List_of_countries_by_Human_Development_Indexhttp: //en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_inequality-adjusted_HDIhttp: //en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Urbanization_by_country
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