President Obama outlined a series of gun control proposals, including a renewed ban on assault weapons, universal background checks on gun buyers and limits to high capacity magazines, that also included a proposal to study the impact of violent videogames and other media on minors.
In an appearance at the White House today, Obama also signed 23 executive orders designed to address the issue of gun violence in the wake of the Newtown, Conn., shooting rampage. The executive orders delve extensively into improving background checks and mental health.
Obama’s series of steps includes asking Congress to provide $10 million for the Centers for Disease Control to “conduct further research, including investigating the relationship between videogames, media images and violence,” according to the text of the White House proposals. Although the wording seems to leave room for study movie and TV violence, and even the Internet, Obama singled out videogames in his appearance on Wednesday.
Obama said that, in addition to the CDC study on gun violence, “Congress should fund research into the effects that violent video games have on
young minds. We don’t benefit from ignorance. We don’t benefit from
not knowing the science of this epidemic of violence.”
Nevertheless, the set of recommendations do make mention of the entire industry, concluding that entertainment and videogame firms “have a responsibility to give parents tools and choices about the movies and programs their children watch and the games their children play.” During Vice President Joseph Biden’s meetings with representatives from the industry last week, extensive time was spent on voluntary content ratings systems, which some parents orgs say need improvement.
An executive order that Obama signed frees the CDC to conduct research on the “causes and prevention of gun violence,” even though Congress has barred the scientific agency from using funds to “advocate or promote gun control.” The administration, however, says that the research is not advocacy but public health research.
Obama also cited last summer’s shooting rampage in an Aurora, Colo. multiplex, when he made the case for a renewal of the assault weapons ban by saying, “Weapons designed for war have no place in a movie theater.”
The videogame industry has said that existing research has shown no causal link between virtual violence and real-life violence, and the Supreme Court in 2011 even cited the lack of evidence when a majority struck down a California law banning the sale of violent videogames to minors.
Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W. Va.), chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, already has called for a study of the impact of videogame and video violence, but his proposed legislation, which was introduced in the waning days of the last Congress, specifies that the study would be done by the National Academy of Sciences.
James Steyer, the CEO of Common Sense Media, a parents’ advocacy org that focuses on the media, praised the proposals in a statement. “By calling on Congress to direct $10 million to the Centers for Disease Control for the research on the possible linkage between violent video games and other media images and acts of violence, our country is taking an important first step towards protecting the most vulnerable among us.”
The White House plan is here.
Obama and Biden’s complete remarks are below: