After Sandy Hook, Senator calls for violent video game probe
Here we go again
Gun control remains a politically fraught issue in the US, even after such events as the December 14 mass shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, but one top lawmaker has proposed legislation that could lead to tighter restrictions on firearms – at least the imaginary kind.
On Wednesday, Senator Jay Rockefeller, a Democrat from West Virginia, introduced a bill that would require the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) to conduct a study into the impact that violent video games have on children.
"This week, we are all focused on protecting our children," Senator Rockefeller said in a statement, alluding to the nation's lingering shock at the events in Newtown. "At times like this, we need to take a comprehensive look at all the ways we can keep our kids safe. I have long expressed concern about the impact of the violent content our kids see and interact with every day."
Adam Lanza, the 20-year-old gunman who killed 26 people during his rampage through Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, including 20 children, was reportedly a die-hard video gamer, though which titles he enjoyed is not known. The withdrawn and reclusive Lanza also killed his mother and himself in the incident, leaving details of his background sketchy.
Rockefeller said his bill would require NAS to study the connection between violent video games and programming and "harmful effects" on children, and specifically to examine whether violent games might cause children "to act aggressively or otherwise hurt their wellbeing."
Also on Wednesday, President Barack Obama announced that in light of the recent incident, he planned to make real-life guns a "central issue" of his second term, adding that his administration would submit proposals to Congress for new legislation to restrict firearms sales and improve access to mental health care no later than January.
So far, however, Rockefeller's bill is the only actual national legislation to have been proposed specifically in response to the Newtown tragedy.
In his statement, Rockefeller said, "Recent court decisions demonstrate that some people still do not get it. They believe that violent video games are no more dangerous to young minds than classic literature or Saturday morning cartoons. Parents, pediatricians, and psychologists know better."
Supreme Court precedent disagrees
By "court decisions," Rockefeller refers primarily to a 2011 case in which the Supreme Court struck down a California law banning the sale of violent video games to children on grounds that games were free speech protected under the First Amendment of the US Constitution.
Following that 7–2 decision, Justice Antonin Scalia wrote that the California law was "unprecedented and mistaken," noting that, "California's argument would fare better if there were a longstanding tradition in this country of specially restricting children's access to depictions of violence, but there is none ... Grimm's Fairy Tales, for example, are grim indeed."
Furthermore, Scalia wrote, "Psychological studies purporting to show a connection between exposure to violent video games and harmful effects on children do not prove that such exposure causes minors to act aggressively."
Given the specific wording of that decision, it's unlikely that Rockefeller's call for a new investigation into whether games cause children to act aggressively will have much effect. Even if the NAS study's findings completely contradicted Scalia's judgment of earlier evidence, it would likely take a Constitutional Amendment to overrule the Supreme Court's decision.
But then, it has always been easier to champion legislation that claims to protect children than to tackle tougher issues, such as gun control.
For example, the 2005 law banning sales of violent video games to minors passed the California Assembly by a near-unanimous vote of 66–7.
By comparison, a 1989 California law banning the sale of high-capacity firearms it termed "assault weapons" – introduced partially in reaction to a mass shooting at an elementary school in the state that left five children dead and 29 wounded – only just passed with a split vote of 41–35. ®
Re: Re:@pixl97 121220 1031
"Also add in the teaching that American freedom and independence helped saved the world both in WWI and WWII."
Three years late the first time, two years late the second time.
You never know - There may be an issue
Repeat after me: Guns good, Tits baaaaad, Violence good, Tits baaaaaad. Now wave the stars'n'stripes. Good boy. Do it again.
In any case, the act requires government to subsidize a proper study. That's all. It will be interesting if the results of the study show what we all know: Tits gooooooooood, Violence - definitely bad.
I just do not see how this will be presented in a country where the end of the world is declared if half a nipple is seen on live TV.
This is just stupid, anyone with any sense can see this is all just for show. If games, movies and other media were the problem then wouldn't many other countries be having the same issues? Canada is right next door and consumes mostly the same media yet has a significantly lower rate of gun violence.
It's time for the US government to grow some balls and do what's needed rather than just pretend to do something,
Why is it never just the fault of the individual, there always has to be something that forced them to do it. This kind of mentality really gets on my wick.
At the end of the day people need to accept that some people are just plain wrong, they choose to do these things, ultimately because they want to.
If it was down to a particular, game/movie/activity, then there would be a lot more of this stuff happening.
Until people stop trying to make excuses for these people and actually place the blame with the person doing the crime, things are not going to get better.
Beer - because this sounds like a pub rant.
Why is it illegal to slap a politician?
Oh, here we go again. The various stages of FAIL whenever there's a large-scale killing involving guns.
Blame the video games! Err, no, they have the same games all over the world (you can actualy get more violent games outside the US) and no, people aren't grabbing guns & walking into places and blazing away.
Blame Hollywood/violent movies! Err, no. See above. And again, there's less censorship outside the US than in it.
Blame the lack of prayer in schools! Ye gods & small fishes! See above.
Blame Marilyn Manson! I don't really care for his music (I'm old) but I don't think for one second that he's got anything to do with gun deaths.
Blame... err... [INSERT HOT ISSUE OF THE DAY HERE]!
But let's make absolutely sure that we don't talk about the extend of mental problems, the lack of facilities to monitor/track/treat them, the easy availability of guns and a significant percent of the population that thinks guns and violence can be answers to their problems.
Take the countries of Western Europe & Canada, throw in Japan and you have a population roughy equal to America's, with a broad similarity of culture, the same, or similar, foods, drinks, games, movies, books etc and you... don't get the same number of gun deaths.
Guns are (Canda excepted) much, much rarer beasts outside the US and mental health (including Canada now) is much better addressed.
So will the States actually do anything? They should but I'm betting that, 2 years from today, nothing meaningful will have been done & another 20,000 people (in ones & twos, most of them not together) will be dead through gun violence.