Esports execs place 'Madden' shooting blame on U.S. gun laws, not video games

A Jacksonville Sheriff officer walks past the GLHF Game Bar where two “Madden” competitors were killed in Jacksonville on Sunday. (Getty Images)

Following the shooting at the “Madden NFL 19 Classic” qualifying tournament that claimed the lives of two gamers and wounded nine others at a mall in Jacksonville over the weekend, esports executives are advising those who might blame the violence on video games to focus on U.S. gun laws instead.

“Of course tragedies like this should never happen. One is already too many,” Asian Electronic Sports Federation president Kenneth Fok told reporters at a press conference on Wednesday prior to the debut of esports at the quadrennial Asian Games, according to the Associated Press. “But I think this is a bigger issue of gun control and access to guns.

“This very unfortunate incident happened in a video game arena, but does this mean that it’s esports or video games to blame? I don’t believe so. It’s not esports that caused this. We’re really saddened to see this take place.”

Esports exec: ‘Tell me … where this has happened in Asia’

Likewise, Fok’s vice president at the AESF, Lokesh Suji, a founding member of India’s gaming league, said that mass shootings like the one that occurred in Jacksonville are a U.S. issue, not a gaming one.

“Tell me about one incident where this has happened in Asia,” Suji said, via the Associated Press. He added, “We’ve never had this in this part of the world. Why are things happening in the U.S.? It’s very sad. Every time something like this happens in the U.S., people start blaming the video games. The bigger picture, the bigger problem is gun control.”

U.S. concern for the perception of gamers

American esports executives have called for increased security in the wake of Sunday’s shooting.

San Jose Earthquakes eMLS competitor Alan Ortega expressed concern to Yahoo Sports earlier this week that the shooting in Jacksonville would feed misconceptions about the gaming community.

“Video games as a whole get a lot of negative attention and this isn’t going to help at all,” Ortega said. “Now with something like this, people are going to think, ‘See, video games cause violence.’

“So it’s definitely a hard hit for the gaming community.”

Comparing Asian gun laws to U.S. gun laws

Indonesia, where the 2018 Asian Games are being held, has strict gun laws compared to the U.S. Automatic and semi-automatic weapons are prohibited, according to gunpolicy.org. In order for civilians to legally obtain handguns and hunting rifles, they must be 21 years old and pass criminal and mental health background checks. Violent offenders are barred from possessing guns.

These are all policies that gun control advocates seek in the U.S. According to the Associated Press, David Katz, the 24-year-old Baltimore native who killed himself after opening fire at the Jacksonville “Madden” tournament, could legally procure handguns in Maryland despite twice being hospitalized for mental illness and a psychologist warning a family court that he could become violent.

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Ben Rohrbach is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at rohrbach_ben@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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