The Newtown community is outraged over a new video game that re-enacts one of the nation’s deadliest mass shootings, even as its creator claims it sends a pro-gun control message.
In “The Slaying of Sandy Hook Elementary School,” players storm through the halls, following shooter Adam Lanza’s footsteps when he opened fire and murdered 20 children and six educators in Newtown, Connecticut, on Dec. 14, 2012. In a twist at the end of the virtual rampage, however, it encourages users to contact their local state officials in support of stricter firearm laws.
Newtown resident and parent David Stowe wasn’t moved by the game’s method of reportedly advocating for tougher gun legislation. He told MSNBC that he “felt sick after a few seconds” of looking at the “disgusting and reprehensible” game.
Family members of Victoria Soto, a Sandy Hook teacher who was killed in the attack, confronted the video game’s creator on Twitter over the painful reminder of the tragedy.
“Please tell us how playing a game that recreates how Vicki died would be beneficial? Please tell us,” the victim’s relatives wrote to Ryan Jake Lambourn in a tweet. That prompted a heated exchange between the two accounts.
Lambourn, who created a similar game revolving around the Virginia Tech shooting, defended his actions to both the family and other online critics (and there were many), saying “it’s about the importance of gun control.”
In a longer audio message posted in the game’s credits, Lambourn argued his creation calls attention to America’s apathy on gun control legislation.
“Here we are nearly a year after the Sandy Hook shootings in which 26 people were killed–20 of which were first graders–and absolutely nothing positive has come out of it,” he said.
Lambourn compared his time time growing up in gun-loving Houston, Texas, to his newly adopted home of Sydney, Australia, a country with very strict regulations in place following the 1996 Port Arthur massacre in which 35 people died.
“As much as you might want to blame this entire state of affairs on politicians, or the NRA, you have to remember that your representatives aren’t mind readers, and the NRA is not doing anything more than motivating its members to passionately talk to those representatives about their opinions,” he said. “If you’re a middle of the road person who believes firearms should at least have the same amount of safety regulations as a car, then it’s really on you, because your absolute apathy is why the news is unbearable to watch. So, I want you to go and click that usa.gov link and find your state governor, and find your representatives in Senate, in Congress, and shoot them an email, or a phone call, and tell them your opinions on gun control, that’s the least you can do.”
MSNBC reached out to the National Rifle Association for a statement, but did not get response.
“It really does not matter if it was making a pro-gun or pro-gun violence prevention statement or not statement at all for that matter, such a reprehensible thing can have no constructive message and has no place in our society,” said Stowe.
The game’s release comes one month before the first anniversary of the massacre.
During the week of December 14, family members of Newtown victims and community leaders plan on hosting a series of events in Washington, D.C. to honor all victims of gun violence.