December 16th, 2012
10:42 AM ET
10 years ago

Colorado governor points to violence in video games

(CNN) - Violent video games and a "culture of violence" found in the media could be contributing factors to mass shootings, Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper said Sunday.

"There might well be some direct connection between people who have some mental instability and when they go over the edge - they transport themselves, they become part of one of those video games," Hickenlooper said on CNN's "State of the Union." "Perhaps that's why all these assault weapons are used."

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Hickenlooper is all too aware of the devastating toll of a mass shooting after 12 people were killed and 58 wounded at an Aurora, Colorado, movie theater in July. The suspected gunman is a 24-year-old former doctoral student.

The governor said the "the heart of every person in Colorado" goes out to those in Connecticut affected by Friday's elementary school shooting, where 20 students and six adults were killed.

"Our hearts are breaking here for them," Hickenlooper told CNN chief political correspondent Candy Crowley. "We know exactly how they feel."

The Democratic governor argued that some gun regulations need to be tweaked but said more immediate changes can take place by targeting mental health. Since this summer's deadly shooting in Aurora, he said his state has spent almost $20 million in new programs to support those dealing with mental illness and educate others to recognize symptoms that could be dangerous.

"That's something we can do immediately without getting into some of the battles of gun legalization or restricting access to guns," he said, though acknowledging the "discussion of gun safety is going to continue."

In particular, he said the debate will focus on access to high-capacity magazines. His support for tougher laws in the state marks a change in policy for the governor, who earlier this year said stricter gun laws would not have prevented the Aurora shooting.

But Hickenlooper argued the "country is based on the Second Amendment" and pointed to cases that have "repeatedly" shown the amendment "does protect peoples' rights to bear arms, to have guns."

"My grandfather taught me how to shoot and clean a 12-gauge shotgun and showed me how to hunt, and I've showed my son," he said. "That tradition is very powerful throughout this country."

As Newtown, Connecticut, grapples with the tragedy - one of the nation's worst mass shootings - Hickenlooper recalled his meetings with the families of victims in Aurora.

"I remember how surreal it was," he said. "They're all dealing with something beyond anything they could have ever imagined. It's the worst thing they'll ever see in their lives.

"It's unspeakably hard; there aren't words," he added. "Don't even know how to put it in words."

Watch State of the Union with Candy Crowley Sundays at 9am ET. For the latest from State of the Union click here.

Filed under: Colorado • Connecticut • TV-State of the Union
soundoff (18 Responses)
  1. Collin

    This is a cultural problem and there are a lot of different things that contribute to it. Trying to point to One thing is like taking some one with the flu and saying the problem is the cough. You can get rid of the cough but you still have the flu. We have to come togeather as people and figure this out. 20 children dead for no reason

    December 16, 2012 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  2. Maurizio Passero

    How could this governor say, maybe if you've gone mental health issues you should not be able to acquire guns. Maybe, maybe??? Take heed Americans...if you are unstable you should be banned for life. Please try to learn from this, you can't monitor everyone so making machine inaccessible is the answer. We Canadians are are thinking of the children..

    Maurizio "the Canadian"

    December 16, 2012 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  3. Anonymous

    The good news is, he didn't blame it on God's vengeance for being taken out of public schools as Huckabee and others have. The fact of the matter is Lanza was mentally ill. His mother chose to follow the "I need to protect myself route" by purchasing and giving access to her mentally ill son those very assault weapons she apparently thought would be her only protection from an evil world.

    Stricter federal gun laws needed? You betcha. Psychological background checks for ALL members of a gun owners family. Enforcement of exsisting laws would also help.

    December 16, 2012 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  4. Peace

    I agree with the Governor. The video game is a very bad training field. As the saying goes: "Practice makes perfect". Some are sitting on the games hours and hours each day and in the end the brain gets locked there. Anyone who haven't practised at all, can not shoot multiple times and find thats fine to do so.

    December 16, 2012 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  5. plain&simple

    Education,involvement in community and the place for children and adolescents to gather and share their worries and tribulations would help. Openness and honesty in what's going on in their lives can only help prevent the isolation and alienation that these gunmen feel. The problem goes much deeper than just the gun laws. Open conversation regarding all these issues must be done.

    December 16, 2012 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  6. Ironic

    Republicans are for the right to bear arms, Democrats against it. Yet the Tea Party is very peaceful and the Occupy group violent. Go figure.

    December 16, 2012 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  7. Tony in Maine

    ...and the moon could be made of green cheese. in fact it must be if LaPierre says it is because he controls tens of thousands of votes that will keep you in office or send you home depending on whether or not you parrot his drivel.

    December 16, 2012 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  8. vic , nashville ,tn

    One child died from 11 gunshot wounds WHY WHY WHY
    DON’T tell we need more GUNS
    Enough is enough America

    December 16, 2012 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  9. Thomas

    I agree with the Governor 100 %.

    Violent video games with out the sense of smell or the sense of loss is not a game , nor is war.

    December 16, 2012 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  10. Gregory M. Newbold

    I can`t take credit for this, nor can I give proper attribution but I heard a TWEET repeated on Meet the Press today which says it all:

    "One gut attempts to blow up a plane with a shoe bomb and a Federal Agency makes us all take our shoes off when we fly. There have been multiple mass murderous assault [or attempts] with guns; from Kindergarteners to Congresswoman, as the comments from the Republican RIGHTWING is, we shouldn`t discuss gun restrictions. Reduce the guns means we reduce the deaths. It`s not ROCKET SCIENCE.

    December 16, 2012 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  11. dreamer96

    This is so sad in so many ways....violence against children is so hard to understand...they are so innocent...This young man in CT. had a form of Autism...but Timothy McVeigh did not, and he killed kids too...there was a daycare in that Federal Building in Oklahoma City...and many young children died there too...So Sad....There are many different reasons for these mass shootings...

    Maybe you should look at this most recent case and begin to understand that starting with Kindergarten, school is very confusing and painful for many kids with autism...When my son became upset in kindergarten and elementary school. The School would lock him in a closet until he stopped banging on the door...or stopped screaming and yelling....He is two years older then this young man and for him school, and social interaction/relationships were hard in many ways...He tried to make friends...but many times the other kids just made fun of him..or just got him excited in class ...just to watch him get in trouble, and get kicked out of the class for the day...He ended up not even trying to make friends anymore..because friends led to more getting in trouble......He went through public school without any friends..Even now, after he graduated from community college, with a degree in electronics, he has had a hard time getting a job ...because he is different, and does not interact socially like other people do, and so they do not want him...even though he is smart...

    December 16, 2012 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  12. Scott

    What about banning prescription drugs such as Prozac, which sides effects are clearly stated as suicidal thoughts and violent behavior? People at the very least who are on these types of medication need to register with the police. This would help protect the innocent people of society by knowing where these people are and who these people are.

    December 16, 2012 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  13. vic , nashville ,tn

    Some members carried guns in tea party events that is called bully not peaceful protest . Peaceful protest last seen in Mahatma Gandhi era

    December 16, 2012 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  14. Facts don't Lie

    we have to face the facts that n our country we live in a gun culture it is part of who we are. From cartoons where Elmer Fudd shoots up Daffy Duck and Bugs Bunny to the cop shows we see everyday on television guns are there. And it is not going to change anytime soon, in fact it will take maybe generations to change if indeed we want ti to.

    December 16, 2012 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  15. tammyk tammy

    The combination of violent video games and lazy parenting is a recipe for disaster. Parents are using these video games as babysitters. I have a friend who has allowed her child to play video games depicting war and torture since he was ten years old. I have warned her repeatedly that his mind and values are still being formed at that age and that these games will cause him to form a lack of empathy toward others. These games are worse than movies because of the participatory nature of pulling the trigger to score kills. Her excuse is always that all of his friends play these games, so obviously she isn't the only lazy parent out there neglecting the formation of her child's mind. He also has toy guns and she has repeatedly had to punish him for pointing at them at people. He also hunts which means he has access to real guns. Parents in this country need to take a good look at their sons and think about whether they are raising the next mass murderer. Please make changes before it is too late.

    December 16, 2012 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  16. Tony in Maine

    Scott – Prozac and other mood altering drugs can be obtained by prescription only. Your argument isn't specious, it's stupid.

    December 16, 2012 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  17. Victor Moll

    Blaming the video games is complete nonsense and a typical
    way to avoid the hard choices. I grew up in a different country
    and people there have the same video games, but no one goes
    shooting in a school. Please stop blaming the games.

    December 16, 2012 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  18. tammyk tammy

    Why was the Federal ban on assault weapons put into place with an expiration date? Most laws do not expire and the next ban needs to be permanent. I imagine that the expiration date was the only way to get it past the NRA lobby. Shame on Congress for not renewing it.

    December 16, 2012 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |