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Walmart removes violent video game displays from stores after mass shootings

No evidence tying video games to shootings
  • Walmart is removing promotional displays for violent video games from its stores following recent mass shootings at two of its locations.
  • The retailer said the decision is "out of respect for the incidents of the past week."
  • Violent video games have been blamed for a rise in mass shootings, although researchers say there's no evidence to show a causal link.

Walmart is removing promotional displays for violent video games in its stores following the recent mass shootings at two of its locations, along with criticism from lawmakers that such games promote real-world violence. 

"We've taken this action out of respect for the incidents of the past week, and this action does not reflect a long-term change in our video game assortment," spokeswoman Tara House said in an email to CBS MoneyWatch.

Walmart faces mounting pressure over its decision to continue selling guns following two mass shootings at it stores in recent weeks. Twenty-two people were slain at one of its stores in El Paso, Texas, while last month an employee shot and killed two other workers at a Walmart in Southaven, Mississippi

In another incident, an armed man wearing body armor triggered panic at a Walmart store in Springfield, Mo., on Friday after he entered the building, causing customers to flee. He was arrested after being confronted by an armed former firefighter, who held him at gunpoint until police arrived.

On Thursday, the American Federation of Teachers, the nation's largest teachers union, said it is planning a boycott of the giant retailer if Walmart doesn't stop selling guns.

Armed man in body armor arrested at Missouri Walmart

Walmart's decision to remove violent video game signage was criticized on social media, with consumers pointing out the double-standard of allowing gun sales. Others noted that video games are just as popular in other countries that don't suffer the same rate of gun violence as the U.S.

"@Walmart: If video games caused gun violence, Japan would be grappling with one of the worst gun violence crises on the planet. Yet Japan seldom has more than 10 shooting deaths a year in a population of 127 million people," wrote Shannon Watts, the founder of Moms Demand Action, a gun control advocacy group. 

She added, "It's the guns."

Walmart's "best judgment"

Walmart is targeting signage for games that show violence, and also asking stores to cancel demonstrations of games that feature violence, according to a store notice posted on Twitter. The notice urged employees to use their "best judgment" and turn off games or remove displays if they are unsure of their appropriateness.

Videos related to hunting season were also to be switched off in Walmart's sporting goods department, the notice said.

Following the El Paso shooting, President Donald Trump placed blame on video game makers, seeking to link titles such as "Call of Duty" with a rise in gun violence. Critics also note that the suspected El Paso shooter reportedly mention of "Call of Duty" in his manifesto. To some, such games normalize violence and may be a factor in the rise in mass shootings.

But researchers say there's no scientific research that supports a link between video games and real-world violence. One scientific study points out that 9 of 10 young men play video games, making the connection "as pointless as pointing out that the criminal also wore socks."

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