Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va) reintroduced his bill to study the impact of violent video games and programming on kids. But this time, the bill comes with the firepower of four co-sponsors from both sides of the aisle, including Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Mike Johanns (R-Neb.), Dean Heller (R-Nev.) and Tom Coburn (R-Okla).
For Rockefeller, who recently said he would not run for re-election in 2014, the Violent Content Research Act of 2013 is among his highest priorities as he seeks to cap his legacy in the Senate. He first introduced the bill in the last Congress, days after the Sandy Hook tragedy reignited the debate over gun violence in Washington.
“The reality is we are living in an increasingly violent culture which, when coupled with mental illness, can create a very dangerous situation. This bill is a step in the right direction toward better understanding the effects of violence on children, and I look forward to the recommendations that result from this report,” said Sen. Heller, one of the co-sponsors.
Rockefeller reintroduced the bill late Thursday, the same day Vice President Joe Biden addressed the topic of gun control during the first of what will be regular digital fireside chats on Google+. Biden also reiterated the need for more study into violent content and games as part of the administration’s comprehensive plan to curb gun violence. He took issue with groups such as the Entertainment Software Association that have argued past studies have shown no link between violent video games and violent behavior.
“There is no hard data as to whether or not these excessively violent video games in fact cause people to engage in behavior that is antisocial, including using guns. Let these people go out and look at the pathology that’s behind this, if there is a pathology related to gun violence. We shouldn’t be afraid of the facts,” Biden said.
The Rockefeller bill is similar to what the Obama administration proposed in its gun control plan. It would direct the National Academy of Sciences to conduct a comprehensive study and investigate the connection between violent video games and video programming and aggressive or other violent behavior in children.