Researchers who examined the “bucket list” of a would-be killer in the making describe the consequences of a child’s risky childhood as “falling out of society”.
Five years after Oscar nominee Joaquin Phoenix said he lost his cool over two minutes of watching a violent video game on an iPad, the director of a documentary about firearms insists the case for arming children is beyond doubt.
“There’s a whole philosophy now: your gun is now your kid’s toy,” said film-maker and former Red Cross psychologist Blair Underwood.
“If you give a child an insecure place to hang out, you take away the liability.”
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In Rust, out on limited release in the UK and US this week, Pennsylvania child psychologist Asa Mathis continues to unravel what brought on the boy’s shooting spree.
On 23 July 2012, the then 13-year-old shot his teachers at his middle school, then took a gun to a nearby high school where he killed three students and himself.
Part of the film explores his father’s suicide, his parents’ marital breakdown and the risky, but increasingly common parenting advice of children’s safety devices – unsecured guns in parents’ bedrooms and iPad games that have only one purpose – mayhem.
Underwood believes the internet plays a central role in the popularity of these games.
“When one game in the cabinet is being loaded, you get an advertisement about, say, a cheaters auto insurance calculator,” he said.
“You just don’t see that when it’s time to play games like first-person shooter.”
The idea of arming children has generated debate in American gun reform groups.
Candy Darling, communications director for Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, said: “It is a real, valid question about the role of technology and games in exposing and empowering the behavior of youth who are very distrustful of adults.”
Underwood has his own issues with violence in US media.
“I often find myself scratching my head,” he said.
“You cannot meet enough young people in this country who have never thought about death. They have just never thought about death.”