Ashcroft sounds off on violence in media

Attorney General sez industry must take responsibility for problem

WASHINGTON — The Bush administration has broken its silence on Hollywood in the wake of more school shootings, with Attorney General John Ashcroft saying that violent videogames and movies sometimes “literally teach” kids how to shoot.

Ashcroft, in a March 23 interview with ABC News’ “Good Morning America,” said the entertainment industry must take responsibility for contributing to the widespread problem of violence among young people.

At the same time, Ashcroft was careful to stipulate that there are many other factors at play, including a possible link between news coverage and copycat shootings.

On Thursday, 18-year-old Jason Hoffman was arrested in connection with shootings at Granite Hills High School in El Cajon, the second school shooting in the San Diego area in less than a month. Hoffman is accused of wounding at least five people before being injured by a security guard.

“It prompts all of us to think we’ve got to be more comprehensive in our approach, and to think of what we can do to curtail this sort of ethic of violence that young people seem to embrace, that if they’re disenchanted or angry, they resolve their problem by violence,” Ashcroft said.

“And of course, the entertainment industry, with its videogames and the like, which sometimes literally teach shooting and all, we’ve got to ask ourselves, how do we as a culture respond to be more responsible?” he said.

Ashcroft didn’t dodge the question of what role guns play — a touchy topic for the GOP, since many Republicans oppose gun control. He said President Bush’s proposed budget — now on Capitol Hill — includes matching funds to make trigger locks available to guns already on the market.

Where the Bush administration will go from here in terms of coming down on Hollywood is unclear. The president himself has not come out on the issue.

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