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Campaigner pins latest shooting on video games

Violent gaming the 'stimuli' behind teenager's actions

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Games campaigner Jack Thompson believes that last week's school shooting in North Carolina was caused by the teenager involved playing violent video games. Thompson is the lawyer behind a suit against Take Two games over its upcoming title Bully.

Thompson was talking to OUT-LAW Radio and said he believed that teenager Alvaro Castillo was influenced by the games he played.

"This youth Alvaro Castillo you can go on the internet and see portions of his video which is a suicide note," said Thompson. "He's killed his father and he goes to his school and shoots up his school and he's talking at length about the violent entertainment he's been obsessed with since he was eight years of age and I now find from speaking with a family friend that some of the entertainment was violent video games.

"It's yet another example, you can add this to Columbine, Paducah, Jonesboro Arkansas, Wellsboro, I could go on for half an hour giving you the names of schools that sound like battlefields in World War II. We have reality being infected with virtual reality."

Thompson is a veteran campaigner against violence in video games and their sale to young people. He told OUT-LAW that he wants the US to mirror the approach taken in the UK.

"In the UK, you embody in your laws the notion that there is certain adult entertainment that shouldn't be sold to kids," he said. "No one is trying to ban it outright, but as it stands now, regardless of the rating that the game may get, anyone of any age will be able to buy it and that is just very dangerous. America has become the land of the free and the home of the utterly depraved."

Previous attempts by US states to ban the sale of games to minors have been overturned in the courts, which have found that the games are protected as free speech. Thompson is now suing Take Two games using a different kind of law. He is suing the company over its upcoming controversial title Bully, which is set in schools.

"In Florida you have what is called a nuisance statute which says that a private citizen can get an injunction to shut down any commercial activity that is dangerous to the public, so I think that the statute is appropriate to apply to this game. So I filed the lawsuit to prevent the sale of the game to school age kids, because this is where the real danger is."

Thompson rejects the argument that the problem is with the ready availability of guns, rather than the availability of computer games.

"We've got more guns than people over here," he said. "I would prefer nobody have any guns, but now that the guns are out there, the genie is sort of out of the bottle. Nobody has come up with a way to get the guns from the bad guys as well as the good guys, so that if you pass a law that said everybody has to turn in their guns and we'll melt them down and make a statue of Charlton Heston out of it or something, the bad guys, the criminals would still hold on to their guns and us good guys who are law abiding would be giving them up.

"I live in Miami, I'm not giving up my gun because if somebody comes in my house I want to be able to kill him," he said. "Unfortunately, when you have a country that is awash in guns, you have got to do something about the stimuli to use those guns."

Hear the interview at OUT-LAW Radio

Copyright © 2006, OUT-LAW.com

OUT-LAW.COM is part of international law firm Pinsent Masons.

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