Connecticut Rep. Calls for End to Gun Licensing in Video Games
posted on by Lynzee Loveridge
Connecticut State Representative and Speaker of the House J. Brendan Sharkley issued a letter to Activision Blizzard CEO Robert Kotick, Take-Two Interactive chairman and CEO Strauss Zelnick, Valve co-founder Gabe Newell, and Electronic Software Association President Michael Gallaghar on August 14.
In the letter, Sharkley acknowledges that research shows "little connection" between violence in video games and violence in the real world. Instead, he appeals to the companies to end their licensing agreements with gun companies who "so often attacks you [game companies] following mass murders carried out with its products." Sharkley references Adam Lanza's use of the Bushmaster rifle, a gun that is featured in Call of Duty, which Lanza allegedly played. Lanza killed 26 individuals in the Sandy Hook Elementary school shooting in December.
Games designed to recreate the experience of wartime carnage and criminal violence constitute free speech under the provisions of the First Amendment. But there is little to be said in defense of the industry-wide practice of arranging licensing deals with gun manufacturers for rights to use the make, model and visual design specifications of their real-life weapons.
Activision Blizzard lists "special thanks" to gun manufacturers Colt, Barrett and Remington in its Call of Duty titles.
EA Games ended its licenses with gun manufacturers but will still feature real-world models in its games.
Politicians and experts spoke in support of and against the perceived link between violence and video games. Democratic senator Dianne Feinstein stated that censorship of video games may be necessary. Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi cited Japan's low crime rate as evidence that violent video games do not cause violent behavior. FBI profiler Mary Ellen O'Toole agreed, stating there is not a link between violent behavior and video games. A study published in May found that competitive behavior of video games and other activities are linked to aggression.
Congress has looked to pass a number of bills to combat the perceived link between violence and video games. Democratic congressperson Jim Matheson introduced Bill H.R.287 to house in January in hopes of making ESRB ratings legally binding and President Barack Obama has called for a scientific study investigating the proposed link leading to open letters from the video game industry asking for no censorship. Vice President Biden stated that taxation of violent video games and media would not cause a legal issue.