President Barack Obama wants the federal government to fund research to look at the impact of violent video games.At a press conference Wednesday detailing his proposals for tighter gun laws, the president said that the scientific community needs to discover if there is a link between gory entertainment and the recent spate of mass-shootings.
He did not, however, make any mention of violence in the movies or on TV.
“We don’t benefit from ignorance,” Obama said. “We don’t benefit from not knowing the science of this epidemic of violence.”
The president has been pushing for more restrictions on gun ownership in the wake of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn., last month that left more than 20 people dead.
Obama said that he is instructing the centre for Disease Control to study the roots of violent behaviour, and is asking Congress for $10 million to fund the research.
The film industry must be relieved not to have been targeted in the president’s remarks and their omission could prevent a big dust-up. Hollywood executives and Motion Picture Association of American Chairman Chris Dodd have said they will hit back on any efforts to restrict violence in movies.
Members of the movie and television industry briefed Vice President Joe Biden and other members of the president’s task-force on gun violence at the White House last week about content ratings systems, which give parents tools to regulate what kind of TV programming and movies their children watch.
Dodd, the National Association of Broadcaster’s CEO Gordon Smith and National Cable Telecommunications Association CEO Michael Powell were among the industry figures present.
In addition to scientific research into gun violence, Obama is calling for a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines and universal background checks for gun buyers.”When it comes to protecting the most vulnerable among us, we must act now, Obama said.
In addition to the killings in Newtown, Obama also cited the shootings at an Aurora, Colo., screening of “The Dark Knight Rises” last July that left 12 people dead as more evidence that there need to be more limits on what types of guns can be purchased by civilians.
“Weapons designed for war have no place in a movie theatre,” Obama said.
The National Rifle Association has already begun a television campaign against Obama’s proposals, but the lobbying group may be more sympathetic research into media companies’ role in inciting violence.
At a press conference last month on the Newtown massacre, NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre said the blame for these killings rested on “blood-soaked” films like “American Psycho” and violent games like “Grand Theft Auto.”
“There exists in this country a callous, corrupt and corrupting shadow industry that sells, and sows, violence against its own people,” LaPierre said.
“Isn’t fantasizing about killing people as a way to get your kicks really the filthiest form of pornography?” he asked later.
At the end of the session, they released a generic statement of support for trying to reduce violence.
“This industry has a longstanding commitment to provide parents the tools necessary to make the right viewing decisions for their families,” the group said. “We welcome the opportunity to share that history and look forward to doing our part to seek meaningful solutions.”
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