Violent Video Games

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Adam Lanza gunned down twenty-seven people in Newtown, Conn. Dec. 14 and his access to high-powered firearms has put gun control front and center in the discourse around the tragedy. At the same time, it has started a debate about violent video games. Senator Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) raised the issue while discussing his proposed “national commission on mass violence” on “Fox News Sunday” Dec. 16. “The violence in the entertainment culture, particularly with the extraordinary realism to video games and movies now, does cause vulnerable young men, particularly, to be more violent,” said the senator, who was joined by Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.). ABC News has not confirmed that Lanza played violent video games, but gaming has become part of the debate since the Connecticut shootings, and one group, GamerFitNation, has said it plans a national “cease-fire” Friday out of respect for those who died in Newtown. The issue of the effect of video game violence on young people came into the national spotlight in 2011 when a California law banning the sale of some games to minors was brought before the U.S. Supreme Court. The 2005 law was never enforced due to legal challenges. California asked the court to treat violent and sexually explicit video games as apart from First Amendment protections, much like obscenity. The Supreme Court deemed California’s law unconstitutional in 2011. Writing for the court, Justice Antonin Scalia described the bill as “unprecedented and mistaken” and likened the violence in kids’ games to that in commonly read children’s fairy tales. Justice Scalia also wrote that a causal link between these games’ content and harm to young people had not been proven and went on to place the responsibility to filter what children are exposed to with the parents. “Parents who care about the matter can readily evaluate the games their children bring home,” Scalia wrote. “Filling the remaining modest gap in concerned-parents’ control can

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