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Are Video Games And Hip Hop Really To Blame For Gun Crime?

Jan 4, 2008
Gun crime is a blight upon this nation that is apparently growing at a rapid pace. Those committing gun crime seem to be getting younger and guns appear more readily available than ever. Causes for this are deep and far-reaching; commentators have attempted to blame the epidemic of gun crime on 'hip hop' music and the rise in violent video games. Both factors need to be studied at greater depth to gain a true understanding of the influence they hold over the young of today.

'Hip hop' and 'rap' music have long been blamed for glamorizing guns as a cause of gun crime. Lyrics and the images used by some rappers can stand testament to this but it cannot be said that the genre as a whole is promoting the positive use of guns. A valid point that has been raised by many in the industry is that the social ills in city slums are far more a cause of gun crime than any song lyrics.

In an industry where two of its biggest stars were gunned down there are plenty of performers who actively dissuade listeners from carrying a gun. The loss of Tu Pac and Biggie Smalls was devastating to the industry and led many of the contemporary artists to produce anti gun crime music. This however has changed with a new crop of rappers who see the glamorisation of gun crime as an easy way to make a buck.

This is a worrying trend; during the nineties it was mostly U.S rappers who were responsible for pro gun lyrics, now with a rising fraternity of budding young British rappers, the perils of gun crime have been brought home. There is no doubt that music can be instrumental in young people's lives and today's artists have a responsibility to their fans to dissuade them from carrying guns.

Another cause of gun crime that has come to the fore in recent years is the increased realism and violence in modern video games. A recent example of this was a video game that included a detailed reconstruction of Manchester Cathedral as a level in the game. Outrage soon followed as church leaders first condemned the use of a church in a violent game and secondly using a church in an area with some of the highest levels of gun crime in Britain.

Video games such as the 'Grand Theft Auto' series have been campaigned against for many years now and touted as a cause of gun crime. The game; involving the creation of a criminal empire and including many killings along the way has been criticised for promoting a gangster lifestyle.

There is no proof however that playing one of the most popular game series' in history results in the player becoming a career criminal. From the amount of people that have played the game, surely our streets would be awash with enterprising Vito Corleones.

Arguments from anti-violent game protesters have been valid in the past. At times games producers can go too far; huge amounts of violence is unacceptable in modern games. With age restrictions put upon today's video games however, it is clearly the parent's responsibility to study what they are buying their darlings at the checkout.

Gun crime in the UK cannot be attributed to video games and song lyrics. The argument that these are primary causes of gun crime is senseless. Surely socio-economic factors such as housing and poverty in our cities less desirable neighbourhoods are larger causes; as is the dependency in these areas upon criminal incomes instead of more recognised career choices.

Blaming popular culture is an easy answer for social commentators; it allows them to present scapegoats when the true causes are brushed under the carpet. Unless something is done to resolve the deep-seeded issues that cause UK gun crime, the epidemic will continue unabated.
About the Author
Social commentator Shaun Parker looks into the variety of causes behind gun crime in the UK. To find out more please visit http://www.knifecrimes.org/
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