ATLANTA, GEORGIA — During a seminar at the National Rifle Association’s annual meeting, an author who claims to specialize in the psychology of killing told gun owners that we are raising a generation of “vicious killers” and the only way to stop them is more guns.
Dave Grossman, a self-described professor of “killology” who published a book in November called Assassination Generation, claimed that violent video games and movies are turning children into monsters capable of committing worse mass shootings than those we have seen in recent decades.
“Can anyone deny that we’ve raised the most vicious generation of killers the world has ever seen?” he asked the NRA audience. “They’ve given us crimes that children have never dreamed of. They’ll give us crimes as adults in our darkest nightmares we never imagined.”
Like other speakers throughout the NRA’s three-day convention, Grossman refused to recognize the link between the high number of guns and gun deaths in the United States. Instead, he tried to use outside forces to explain the violence, to drive fear and paranoia, and to convince people to purchase more firearms.
“The one factor the killers have in common: every one of them dropped out of life and immersed themselves in the sickest movies and the sickest video games,” he said. “The guns have always been there. The sick movies and the sick video games are creating sick, sick kids.”
Grossman went on to claim that the United States is experiencing an “explosion of murders” like nothing we have seen since the Civil War, a demonstrably false statement. Murders are at an all-time low in most major cities; today the murder rate is about a third what it was in the 1990s.
He also focused on mass school shootings, occurrences that are rare and make up a tiny percentage of all gun deaths. An average of 12,000 people are killed each year by guns, but more than half are suicides and most of the others occur during domestic disputes. In an average month, 50 women are shot to death by an intimate partner.
Grossman made no mention of the dangers of having a gun in the home. Instead, he focused on children and deranged “lone jackals” being the problem.
“Can we take the lessons learned in Columbine and Jonesboro or Virginia Tech? Can we take the lessons learned on 9/11, Pulse Nightclub in Orlando? Or do we have to wait until our kids die?” he said. “Do we have to wait until our friends die to take action?”
Unless there is somebody in the school prepared to shoot back, Grossman claimed, these mass shootings will continue. “There has never been a multiple homicide in a school when there was somebody in the building who could shoot back,” he said.
All available research shows the opposite: that laws making schools gun-free zones have significantly reduced gun violence. According to the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, student homicide rates at schools decreased significantly after the federal laws restricting guns in schools were adopted in the early 1990s. Experts say that proposals to allow guns on college campuses would lead to more homicides on campuses.
Reciting another lie, Grossman told NRA members that some of the highest murder rates in the world occur in countries like Germany. “Any politician who tells you it would make the bad men go away if we just had those European gun laws is a damn liar,” he said. “Places with the rigid gun laws have seen the most horrendous massacres.”
At the end of his seminar, Grossman concluded with a pitch for gun owners to support the NRA’s lobbying arm, which has successfully bought Republican politicians across the country and convinced them to vote against what advocates call commonsense gun reform.
“We’re living in desperate, violent times, and it’s going to get a hell of a lot worse,” Grossman said. As he spoke, he displayed a list of countries with the highest murder rates — places he claims all have strict gun laws.
“We have never needed you and the NRA like we need you now. Believe in who you are, believe in what you do, and fight with all of your heart and all of your might and all of your soul and all of your money to defeat any politician who wants to turn us into one of those nations.”