Last Saturday the New York Times reported that once again several groups and politicians are putting together a concerted attack on violent video games, in response to the horrible events in Newtown, Conn. Who can blame them after the senseless killing of 20 children and six educators by Adam Lanza? The video game industry is countering through well organized lobbying efforts.
But the banning of violent video games was vetted through the American court system all the way up to the Supreme Court in 2011, which declared it unconstitutional.
The Times reminds us that “Justice Antonin Scalia, writing for the majority, wrote that evidence linking games to violence was unpersuasive and that games had the same legal protection as violent literary classics like Grimm’s Fairy Tales or “Snow White.”
So, will new regulations stand? It will depend on their limits.
Discussing studies that debate the link between video games and violence, the Times article also reminds us that “the scientific record is mixed.” Some say that violent games desensitize and others find no link to bullying or delinquency.
I wonder how in Lanza’s case we could measure the specific effects of violent video games over that of movies, television or exposure to guns.
In that same issue of the Times another article reports that in anticipation of Obama’s tougher control Americans are stocking up on guns. The Times quotes an independent gun dealer as stating that “If I had 1,000 AR-15s I could sell them in a week.” An AR-15, I learnt, is a semiautomatic riffle. The same gun used by Lanza in Newtown.
Apparently some groups that support gun control are asking Obama not to spend all political clout on an assault weapons ban, which will be a tough sell to Congress. Instead they suggest that it be spent on more important goals like universal background checks and cracking down on gun trafficking.
Wouldn’t it be more effective for the anti violent video games lobby to join forces and resources with Obama in his gun control campaign? If Lanza had no access to an AR-15 (or any such weapon) perhaps he would have stayed home playing his video games.