After a week of intense anti-gun sentiment following the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School, the National Rifle Association on Friday blamed video games and their virtual guns for creating a culture of violence that breeds killers.
"There exists in this country a callous, corrupt and corrupting shadow industry that sells, and sows, violence against its own people through vicious, violent video games with names like 'Bulletstorm,' 'Grand Theft Auto,' 'Mortal Kombat' and 'Splatterhouse,'" said NRA executive vice president Wayne LaPierre during a news conference that was interrupted by protesters. (See video above.)
While most of the games LaPierre listed are popular adult-themed games made by some of the biggest game companies in the world, the NRA chief also called out a game called "Kindergarten Killer" and asked why the media had ignored it.
"How come my research department could find it and all of yours either couldn't or didn't want anyone to know you had found it?," he asked the press gathered in front of him.
If you know the name of the game, it's easy to find in a Web search, but it's not something someone is likely to stumble across. That's because the simple, amateur Flash-animation game — about a janitor who goes on a shooting spree in a school full of heavily armed children — was posted in online forums a decade ago and has never been for sale. There is no indication that the Newtown shooter, 20-year-old Adam Lanza, knew of its existence. Though a Finnish site did remove the game after a shooting there, it is still available for free through other Flash sites.
LaPierre's accusations come after lawmakers and pundits earlier in the week suggested that video games had played a role in the Newtown shootings. Though some reports suggest Lanza played video games ranging from the family-friendly "Mario Party" to the violent "Call of Duty," investigators have yet to make any such connection.
While a new Gallup poll suggests that 47 percent of Americans do think reducing gun violence in movies, TV and video games would be "very effective" in preventing mass shooting at schools, researchers and adolescent psychiatrists have spoken out this week, insisting that the link between digital violence and real world violence is tenuous at best.
"There is no good evidence that video games or other media contributes, even in a small way, to mass homicides or any other violence among youth," wrote Chris Ferguson — professor of psychology and criminal justice at Texas A&M University and author of several studies on the subject, in Time Magazine.
Meanwhile, in the wake of the real-world bloodshed, some gamers have called on their fellow players to take the time to examine their fascination with digital guns and violence.
Winda Benedetti writes about video games for NBC News. You can follow her tweets about games and other things on Twitter here @WindaBenedetti and you can follow her on Google+. Meanwhile, be sure to check out the IN-GAME FACEBOOK PAGE to discuss the day's gaming news and reviews.