A self-described professor of “killology” is taking part in a Thursday meeting at the White House about how video games might spur gun violence.
David Grossman, a retired U.S. military special forces officer and former psychology professor at West Point, will attend the meeting along with representatives of the video game industry. Grossman is an incredibly popular figure with gun advocates and the law enforcement community. His book On Killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society is recommended reading for U.S. Marines and required at the FBI Academy. He has also given frequent seminars for the National Rifle Association (NRA) and runs a police training course called “Bulletproof Warrior.”
However, if you give Grossman’s work anything more than a cursory glance some disturbing trends start to emerge. In one of his training classes, recorded for the documentary Do Not Resist, he tells his students that they’ll have the best sex of their lives after they kill another human being.
“Both partners are very invested in some very intense sex,” he says. “There’s not a whole lot of perks that come with this job. You find one, relax and enjoy it.”
Grossman is a police trainer who tells cops they should be using *more* lethal force, and that after killing a man, they'll have the best sex of their lives.
The White House will hear his I'm-sure-it-isn't-crazy-at-all expertise about video games.https://t.co/too4hos9Yu
— Radley Balko (@radleybalko) March 8, 2018
White House releases expected attendees for today's meeting on video game violence pic.twitter.com/w6uk1k94id
— Oliver Darcy (@oliverdarcy) March 8, 2018
“We. Are. At. War.” Grossman told one group of Pennsylvania officers. “You are the frontline troops in this war. You are the Delta Force. You are the Green Beret. You are British SAS. Can you accept that? Every single one of you is in the frontline of a live ammo combat patrol every day of your life.”
Grossman’s classes have been criticized for being overly-militaristic and presenting a black-and-white version of the world where police are noble figures holding back chaos. In 2016, it emerged that Jeronimo Yanez, the police officer who shot black motorist Philando Castile during a traffic stop outside St. Paul, Minnesota attended several of Grossman’s classes.
Unsurprisingly, Grossman also has some very NRA-friendly views about gun control, claiming that “places with rigid gun laws have seen the most horrendous massacres” and that the only way to stop a mass shooting is to arm more people.
And Grossman believes that violent video games are creating a “generation of mass killers.”
“We know that the sick movies and the sick video games create sick, sick kids,” he told ThinkProgress. “What we have is a whole civilization that is more predisposed to violence.” Grossman added that “gang membership is exploding,” the U.S. is facing “open warfare with criminal gangs,” and that “if you have Muslims in the workplace, you have due cause to fear them.”
In 2016, Grossman also published Assassination Generation which argues “video games that depict antisocial, misanthropic, casually savage behavior can warp the mind — with potentially deadly results.”
Naturally, there are a few key facts Grossman is omitting from his video-games-are-creating-an-army-of-mini-Hannibal-Lecters argument. First, statistics show that violent crime is at a historic low, and research shows that states with strong gun laws have lower homicide rates. Second, video games have been blamed for mass shootings since Columbine but there has never been conclusive evidence to link the two. Even conservative Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia wrote that there was little evidence to back up the idea that video games alone cause violence. Finally, Sandy Hook shooter Adam Lanza — whom Grossman specifically cites as an example in his new book — did have an obsession with a video game, but one called Dance Dance Revolution.
Trump’s video game talk is stacked with figures aside from Grossman who are certain to ensure that controversy rages at the meeting. Among them is conservative activist Brent Bozell who founded the Parents Television Council to “protect children and families from graphic sex, violence and profanity in the media.” At the other end of the spectrum is Strauss Zelnick, CEO of Rockstar Games, which makes the wildly popular — and extremely violent — Grand Theft Auto games.