In gun debate, video game industry defends itself

The video game industry, blamed by some for fostering a culture of violence, defended its practices Friday at a White House meeting exploring how to prevent horrific shootings like the recent Connecticut elementary school massacre.
Associated Press
Jan 14, 2013

Vice President Joe Biden, wrapping up three days of wide-ranging talks on gun violence prevention, said the meeting was an effort to understand whether the U.S. was undergoing a "coarsening of our culture."

"I come to this meeting with no judgment. You all know the judgments other people have made," Biden said at the opening of a two-hour discussion. "We're looking for help."

The gaming industry says that violent crime, particularly among the young, has fallen since the early 1990s while video games have increased in popularity.

There are conflicting studies on the impact of video games and other screen violence. Some conclude that video games can desensitize people to real-world violence or temporarily quiet part of the brain that governs impulse control. Other studies have concluded there is no lasting effect.

Cheryl Olson, a participant in Biden's meeting and a researcher of the effect of violent video games, said there was concern among industry representatives that they would be made into a scapegoat in the wake of the Connecticut shooting.

"The vice president made clear that he did not want to do that," Olson said.

Biden is expected to suggest ways to address violence in video games, movies and on television when he sends President Barack Obama a package of recommendations for curbing gun violence Tuesday. The proposals are expected to include calls for universal background checks and bans on assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines.

Obama appointed Biden to lead a gun violence task force after last month's shooting at a Newtown, Conn., elementary school that left 20 children and six educators dead.

Gun-safety activists were coalescing around expanded background checks as a key goal for the vice president's task force. Some advocates said it may be more politically realistic — and even more effective as policy — than reinstating a ban on assault weapons.

The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence said some 40 percent of gun sales happen with no background checks, such as at gun shows and by private sellers over the Internet or through classified ads.

"Our top policy priority is closing the massive hole in the background check system," the group said.

While not backing off support for an assault weapons ban, some advocates said there could be broader political support for increasing background checks, in part because that could actually increase business for retailers and licensed gun dealers who have access to the federal background check system.

"The truth is that an assault weapons ban is a very important part of the solution — and it is also much tougher to pass," said Mark Glaze, director of Mayors Against Illegal Guns.

Restrictions on high-capacity ammunition magazines are also seen by some as an easier lift politically than banning assault weapons.

The National Rifle Association adamantly opposes universal background checks, as well as bans on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines — all measures that would require congressional approval. The NRA and other pro-gun groups contend that a culture that glamorizes violence bears more responsibility for mass shootings than access to a wide range of weapons and ammunition.

In a 2009 report, the American Academy of Pediatrics declared, "The evidence is now clear and convincing: Media violence is one of the causal factors of real-life violence and aggression."

The report focused on all types of media violence. But for video games in particular, the pediatricians cited studies that found high exposure to violent ones increased physical aggression at least in the short term, and warned that they allow people to rehearse violent acts. On the other hand, it said friendly video games could promote good behavior.

A wide spectrum of the video game industry was represented at the meeting with the vice president, including the makers of violent war video games like "Call of Duty" and "Medal of Honor" and a representative from the Entertainment Software Ratings Board, which sets age ratings that on every video game package released in the United States.

The vice president met Thursday with representatives from the entertainment industry, including Motion Picture Association of America and the National Cable & Telecommunications Association. In a joint statement after the meeting, a half-dozen said they "look forward to doing our part to seek meaningful solutions" but offered no specifics.

Biden, hinting at other possible recommendations to the president, said he is interested in technology that would keep a gun from being fired by anyone other than the person who bought it. He said such technology may have curtailed what happened last month in Connecticut, where the shooter used guns purchased by his mother.

The vice president has also discussed making gun trafficking a felony, a step Obama can take through executive action. And he is expected to make recommendations for improving mental health care and school safety.

"We know this is a complex problem," Biden said. "We know there's no single answer."

The president plans to push for the new measures in his State of the Union address, scheduled for Feb. 12.

 

Comments

Contango

Mr. Obama was far too busy helping to pump up the heated and bigoted rhetoric of the Trayvon Martin shooting for political purposes to be bothered with any Chicago or Detroit funerals.

"If I had a son, he'd look like Trayvon." - Pres. Obama

Pete

You think? The MSM has been covering for him even before he was elected.

Did you see what NY State is proposing? They came up with a 7 round limit for magazines. Where did that number come from? Seems because it would make a vast majority of guns against the law. Quite a few models hold 8 rounds. So 7 would make those illegal.

Most of my compact carry versions are 8+1.

OMG.LOL.WT_

When these discussions start, someone always comes up with the "right to bare arms". Always good for a laugh.

Just Thinkin

A correction 90% of AMERICANS are self centered and only 85% want the pedistal and 10% stand on thier soap box Other than that the rest is pretty much my view, and if you disagree and argue the point then your either on the pedistal or your soap box, as I have the same right so far to post my views, So parents teach your children right and thats all, done discussing this round and round self serving blog .Later ain't checking back so save your whine's till you can bring some cheese to the party,Bye Bye,

KnuckleDragger

Well at least we know how ignorant you are.

luvblues2

The gov't and media has found yet another way to misdirect us on how they spend our money. It is coming tax time and if you make ten bucks an hour, since January 1st, your first hour of the days pay just got shoved to Social Security.

"Ummm...YEAH! GUNS!...and uh...crap....{tap, tap, tap} OH YEAH! That RAPE IN EASTERN OHIO! What about that RAPE in India?! Etc. Etc...

KnuckleDragger

You are right, the guns thing is being used to get peoples minds off the fact that the govt' still isn't dealing with its fiscal problems.

gilamonster

As a kid we watched shows considered violent at the time, “played war” as kids using realistic looking guns without orange tips, listened to “devil” music. For the most part we turned out ok, so for me to squarely blame entertainment would make me a hypocrite. We also came from households where most had loaded rifles or shotguns next to a door for utilitarian purposes. (Porch gun)And from a young age learned gun safety and respect.

I think something wrong with society today, not just here in America either. I guess the only thing we had that a lot of these kids don’t would be parental guidance.

I do believe entertainment and video games influence today’s kids, not sure why. I don’t understand this whole zombie apocalypse craze or the gangsta-rap culture that glorify gunplay, or video games where you can sell dope, pick up prostitutes, murder, etc. These industries want to completely wash their hands from what they glorify.

You got that right, entertainment industry is in the Democrats pockets, Biden wont jeopardize that. I mean after all Tipper Gore thought Prince songs were influential, you know with her PMRC.

"Because hammers have other uses. Assault type weapons have only one use: mowing down large groups of people. Get it?" and what fraction of crime are committed with assualt weapons? So if grey cars kill more people than orange cars, every car should be painted orange?

Gun salesmen of the year award goes to: Feinhole, Biden, Ohbummer, Bloomsquirt; special award for arming Mexican drug dealers goes to Eric "AR" Holder...hahaha.....

Contango

Heck, this Admin. can't even keep track of SAM missiles.

They'll probably blame the NRA.

"Nightmare in Libya: Thousands of Surface-to-Air Missiles Unaccounted For":

http://abcnews.go.com/Blotter/ni...

shucks

Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz !!!

Dr. Information

More guns in the hands of good responsible people.........:)))))))))

OMG.LOL.WT_

I am for the right to bear arms. Arms bare or covered by sleeves, I don't care.
Assault is a silly designation for a rifle or hand gun.
I'll get off the pedestal now.

Sitting In The ...

Typical Republicans bash the Democrats and offer no solutions of your own because your to busy babbling on about how there going to go door to door and take your guns. Evidently you are unaware gun violence was happening in these cities BEFORE he became president. So please keep blaming him for everything it sure beats actually doing anything useful. Bash the Democrats all you want but at least they appear to be looking at possible solutions. Can you Republicans say the same?

Dr. Information

Yup, spot on. Your beloved Democrats are running this country GREEATTTTT!!!! Hows the debt? Hows the new taxes and future ones to come? No spending cuts....ahh thats ok, we will just print more money until China says enough then tax everyone that makes a decent living 100% and tell them...its for the best of their country.

Whats going to kill us first. A gun ban or this national debt and everything related to it. I'd choose the later.

shucks

.

The Hero Zone's picture
The Hero Zone

Not having the educational background nor professional certification to handle matters of law or medicine, I can only really "professionally" comment on the entertainment leg of the stool. Or rather, offer solutions. Parent involvement is, as has even been mentioned by responders here before, key. It allows parents/guardians to provide context for the content of the game. To reinforce at home that "this is good, this is bad, or this is why those characters are fighting/loving each other". Not all children have the (who'd think that this could be considered as such?) luxury of one, two, or even parents that care about their interests let alone life and how to live it. So, no context is given for the games they play and children are left to develop their own thoughts which we can only hope don't turn into realized violence.

Even addressing these cases and presuming the kid at least attends a school, these are suggestions I have heard discussed in the store and/or have thought of or added to on my own:

1. Bring in not just police but retired/active soldiers or victims of a gun wound into the class. This puts real faces on the people on both ends of the barrel. It shows the real consequences for gun use. It de-mystifies and de-romanticises guns. It doesn't have to be all scare tactic. It should be address in a "real" manner. Straightforward. Answering questions. Just as is (I presume) the stated intention of sexual education in schools: gun education is meant to confront a problem or help guide a choice before either neglectful ignorance or willful abuse occurs.

2. Introduce martial arts or some kind of certified self-defense class in P.E. Not only is martial arts an extremely low-cost sport (trying to respect tight school budgets) and great form of exercise, it carries a message of respect and philosophy of thought that should neither conflict with the teachings practitioners of various faiths already study nor do many forms actually promote offense over defense. Most communities across the country (but drawing locally here) have one or more certified trainers who may be willing to volunteer their services or contract for a small price. It is healthy, competitive, and teaches self-preservation techniques.

3. Along the lines programs like the (J)ROTC or Boy Scouts do, introduce a marksman sport club in schools like ski clubs. Compete at conservatories and shoot paper targets or clay pigeons. Teach the proper respect, care, and use of guns. Make them less scary so that in situations involving them more rational thought than usual can be used in a crisis. This could even include archery, which akin to martial arts, can be a very low cost but competitive sport (kendo could be thrown in here as well). None of the participants are encouraged to kill nor taught to respond with violence. But it makes for more informed young people and better decision making skills overall that can help spread those teachings to their peers. Sharing knowledge is a source of pride for many young people (and I don't just mean gossip).

None of the three, even if they were all enacted, can prevent a tragedy. But they can all help and offer even those kids who don't have a source of life's lessons at home a way to take responsibility and learn how to be a better, more knowledgeable person. At little theorized cost to the schools/taxpayers, might I add.

As for a legal/medical opinion to help weave a support net to this problem? Well, again as I am not a professional in these fields please don't attack me if this sounds crazy, if many psychiatric medicines include side effects that include "increased risk of suicide" I wonder if that can translate to homicide too? In that case, should any of those who take a chemical-balancing mix have their ability to legally own and operate a gun suspended until a doctor writes off on it? Should a medical patient have to register with the police they are "at risk" and/or turn over any guns they possess until they are dismissed of the condition? Should doctors or the patients themselves be required to notify friends and family of the medical/legal restrictions placed on them so that more risk of something happening can be avoided? These questions get into sticky privacy territory, and while we do in fact receive the protections of the second amendment, there is a seemingly uncontested red line regarding limitation when it comes to one's background or competency to handle a weapon. Of course illegal ownership is what it is, too...

eriemom

The problem is that a) we have violent videos, b) we watch violent movies, c) we have crazy people.

Other countries don't have mass murders/massacres, yet they too have all of the above. Well, maybe not as many batcrap crazies.

What IS different?

Warhol_89

What ever happened to the good old days of the Super Mario Brothers when all parents had to worry about was their kids attempting to jump and smash their heads on objects above them...

I can see how violent games can set bad examples for children to an extent, that's why there's the ESRB rating on each game which shows it's intended age group, and most of the gun games are for Teen and Mature audiences. Parents should heed the ESRB ratings on the game covers, that's part of their responsibility if they are going to allow their kids to play videogames.

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