After a mass shooting, pro-gun activists often reach for ways to explain how it could have happened yet again that isn’t “there too many people have guns and they’re too easy to get.” This weekend’s shooting in Jacksonville, FL, at a Madden video game tournament has proved to be no exception, with Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi supplying the obvious alternate explanation—it’s about video games—but with a fascinating twist.
With the strength of a long history of conservative handwringing over the impact of violent video games on children’s minds to her back, Bondi went down a different road, instead warning parents that “predators” might find children through location services on video games. ThinkProgress first posted the video of Bondi’s appearance on Fox News Monday morning:
Much credit for this remarkable pivot has to go to Fox News’ Steve Doocy, who asked Bondi about the fact that “usually, I believe, something like this is played remotely,” and not usually “under one roof,” like that matters.
Bondi went on to warn that parents should check the settings on the games their children are playing, because “predators can find you based on location services.” According to Bondi, “The scary thing is they could find out where your 13-year-old is sitting at home playing that game”—not, presumably, that almost anyone could have a gun anywhere, including at a pizza restaurant or a video game tournament. Bondi conveniently failed to mention that the two men who died in this incident were 27 and 22 years old.
“I know Minecraft, we’ve talked about that in the past, I don’t know about Fortnite,” Bondi also said. I have no idea what she’s talking about, and have reached out to Microsoft to clarify whether Minecraft does indeed feature any location services options. From what I can tell looking at my version of Fortnite on Nintendo Switch, there is no option that would reveal my location to other gamers.
But whether or not she was talking completely out of her ass about these games is beside the point. It’s ridiculous that Bondi made this about video games in any respect, and not the incredible ease of access to guns in this country. It is too easy to get a gun and kill people if you are violent, mentally ill, or just mad that you lost a video game. This is the problem; it is always the problem.