Obama’s Gun Agenda Includes Media Violence Study

CDC would look into possible link

The culture of media violence was only obliquely referenced in President Obama's sweeping plan to reduce what he called an epidemic of gun violence in the wake of the tragedy at Newtown.

Among the 23 executive actions Obama signed Wednesday immediately following his address was a directive to the Centers for Disease Control to conduct research into the causes and prevention of gun violence, including "investigating the relationship between video games, media images and violence."

But first, Congress will need to fund $10 million for the research.

The CDC study is similar to a bill to be re-introduced next week by Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) that calls for a study by the National Academy of Sciences into the link between violent video games and programming and gun violence.

"I am working hard in the Senate to make sure this type of research, which I have strongly backed throughout my career, is available to inform our work on gun violence," Rockefeller said in a statement.

Also part of Obama's broad proposal, the administration is urging gun owners and groups to launch a campaign to promote "common-sense gun safety measures."

The proposals were the result of meetings between vice president Joe Biden and 229 groups, including representatives from the entertainment, media and video game industries.

Although groups such as Common Sense Media recommended further restrictions on violent content and marketing beyond the self-regulatory programs currently in place, those policy recommendations didn't seem to make the president's cut. Nevertheless, the organization applauded the proposal for a study by the CDC.

"By calling on Congress to direct $10 million to the CDC for research on the possible linkage between violent video games and other media images and acts of violence, our country is taking an important first step towards protecting the most vulnerable among us," said Jim Steyer, CEO of Common Sense Media. 

The entertainment industry, which met with Biden last week, also threw its support behind the president's study proposal. "We stand ready to be part of the conversation and welcome further academic examination and consideration on these issues as the President has proposed," said the statement from the Independent Film & Television Alliance, the Motion Picture Association of America, the National Association of Broadcasters, and the National Cable & Telecommunications Association.

The Entertainment Software Association, representing the video game industry, issued a positive, though skeptical statement. "Scientific research and international and domestic crime data all point toward the same conclusion: entertainment does not cause violent behavior in the world."

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