Last week, Scott Pappalardo took to Facebook to post a video discussing his 30-year ownership of an AR-15, his love of range shooting, the tattoo he has of the Second Amendment on his arm and why he decided to destroy the rifle in the wake of the mass shooting at Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida that left 17 dead.
"I'll be honest with you, it's a lot of fun to shoot," Pappalardo, a New York state resident said. "I'm not a hunter. I've never killed anything with it except a bunch of targets. I remember after Sandy Hook happened. I said to my wife I'd gladly give this gun up if it would save one child. That's five years ago now. Since then, more than 400 people have been shot in over 200 school shootings. So I guess my words were just empty words in the spur of the moment. And now here we are, 17 more lives lost. So when do we change? When do we make laws that say maybe a weapon like this isn't OK in today's society."
Pappalardo goes on to say people can blame video games, the Internet, bad parenting, mental illness, "but ultimately, it's a gun like this one that takes away the lives."
After discussing how he thinks gun laws need to be changed, Pappalardo asks the camera, "So now, what do I do with this? How do I get rid of it?" He could sell it for about $500, he notes, but what if someone buys it and their child brings it to school one day and shoots a bunch of people. "Could I live with that? Is the right to own this weapon more important than someone's life?"
Instead, Pappalardo says he wanted to make sure that could never happen with his weapon and proceeds to cut it into pieces. "There will always be people who want to kill and will do it one way or another, but they're not going to do it with this gun."
Video games have long been a scapegoat for lawmakers in the wake of school shootings. Most recently, Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin said video games and violent media are creating a "culture of death that is being celebrated."
"There are video games that, yes, are listed for mature audiences, but kids play them and everybody knows it, and there's nothing to prevent the child from playing them," Bevin, who is endorsed by the National Rifle Association, said. "They celebrate the slaughtering of people. There are games that literally replicate and give people the ability to score points for doing the very same thing that these students are doing inside of schools, where you get extra points for finishing someone off who's lying there begging for their life."
"These are quote-unquote video games, and they're forced down our throats under the guise of protected speech. It's garbage. It's the same as pornography. They have desensitized people to the value of human life, to the dignity of women, to the dignity of human decency."
Researchers Patrick Markey and Chris Ferguson pointed out in a recent Glixel opinion piece that, "When scholars have examined real-world violence – school shootings, homicide, and aggregated assault – any tiny links between video games and mundane acts of aggression completely disappears. Research done by the US Secret Service and our laboratories have both found that less than 20 percent of school shooters played violent video games with any amount of regularity. Not only is interest in violent video games rare among school shooters, these perpetrators express much less interest in this violent medium than most other individuals. If you were to enter any school in America you would find that about 70 percent of the male students habitually play violent video games. If there is any link between violent video games and school shootings it is in the opposite direction expressed by politicians and researchers examining irritating loud noise exposure – those who perpetrate acts of violence in schools are more than three times less likely to play violent video games than an average high school student."
The real issue, Pappalardo says in his video, is lax gun control rules. Many mass-murders in the country were able to buy guns legally.
"I am going to give you a news flash," he said. "Until the other day, Nikolas Cruz was a legal gun owner. Steven Paddock in Las Vegas, killing 58 people, was a legal gun owner until that night."