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Media Personalities And Political Leaders Link Videogames To Shootings; Sen. Lieberman Wants To Restore Commission On Violence

Posted On: 12/18/2012

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TAGS: video games, video game violence, shooting video game, video game debate, Newtwon CT shooting, Sandy Hook Elementary School, violent videogames, gun control, mental health policy, Joe Leiberman

NEWTOWN, CT -- Within 48 hours after the mass murder at Sandy Hook Elementary School here on Dec. 14, some U.S. political figures and national and international media voices began linking the tragedy to "violent" videogames while also calling for tougher gun control and improved mental health policies.

President Obama's 2012 campaign manager David Axelrod tweeted: "In NFL post-game: an ad for shoot 'em up video game. All for curbing weapons of war. But shouldn't we also quit marketing murder as a game?"

"There have been some reports ... that this young man [the Newton shooter] was ... playing a lot of those very violent, very realistic games," anchorman George Stephanopolous said on the ABC News program This Week.

On the same program, commentator Joe Klein said: "I think what we need to do in this society is treat people who create people who create violent movies and violent videogames with the same degree of respect that we accord pornographers. They need to be shunned." Britain's Daily Express claimed that U.S. media had reported the Newtown killer, Adam Lanza, 20, was "obsessed" with videogames. The story failed to cite any credible sources for this statement, however.

One or two reports posted by obscure U.S. media outlets quoted unnamed sources as saying that Lanza liked violent games.

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, speaking on a CNN program, said: "Look at the level of violence in our media and videogames, the depiction of these assault weapons again and again. There might well be some connection between people with a mental disability" who visualize themselves as a videogame character and want to use assault weapons, he said.

In July, commentators also linked videogames to the mass shootings by a deranged gunman in a movie theater in Colorado. | SEE STORY

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2011 that videogames are a form of protected speech under the First Amendment and may not be banned or have access restricted on the basis of content.

This week, Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) called for a "national commission on violence" that would look at entertainment culture, mental health services and gun laws.

In addition to questioning the access Americans have to assault weapons, Lieberman suggested a need to "tone down the violence in the entertainment industry," specifically in videogames, where he said the rating guide should be enforced more heavily. He did not link videogames to mass murder, but said they are a part of America's culture of violence.

After the Columbine High School massacre in 1999, Lieberman teamed up with Sen. John McCain to establish the National Commission on Violence, and now he would like to see the group restored.