Resolution calls for Scott to consider restricting violent games

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By Xander Landen, VTDigger.org

The House passed a resolution Thursday requesting that the executive branch examine whether video game and mass media violence are linked to shootings.

It also asked the administration to consider submitting a legislative proposal that would restrict the sale of violent video games to those under a certain age.

The resolution comes a day after Scott signed sweeping gun legislation that expands background checks to private sales, raises the age to purchase a firearm to 21, limits magazine size and bans bump stocks.

Those recommendations were included in a list of actions put forward by Scott in February in response to the arrest of a Rutland teenager who was allegedly in the final stages of planning an attack on his former high school.

Rep. Douglas Gage, R-Rutland City, who wrote the House resolution, said that looking into the connection between violent games and shootings would help accomplish the goal of those actions: preventing gun violence, particularly against children.

“This is filling in the gap,” Gage said of the resolution in an interview on Thursday. “We passed all the gun bills, they did what they had to do whether you agreed with them or not…but this was still the underlying thing.”

Rebecca Kelley, Scott’s spokesperson, said that the governor plans to establish a “Violence Reduction Task Force” in the coming days. One of its charges will be “to identify root causes of violence and how to better address them,” she said.

Kelley said the connection between violence in video games and shootings “could certainly be an area they look at, as they deem appropriate.”

The House resolution cites 2015 research from the American Psychological Association which found a link between violent video games and increased aggression in players.

But in announcing those findings, the association also noted that “insufficient evidence exists about whether the link extends to criminal violence or delinquency.”

A study published this January by the University of York in the United Kingdom found no connection between violence in video games and increased aggression.

“The findings suggest that there is no link between these kinds of realism in games and the kind of effects that video games are commonly thought to have on their players,” David Zendle, a computer science professor at the university, said in a news release about the research.

However, Gage said that research linking video games and aggression is “overwhelming” and believes the connection is logical.

“We use simulators to train pilots, we use simulators to train kids in school to drive automobiles and they work and this is no exception,” he said. “The evidence on the other side just doesn’t stack up.”

Among those who apparently agree with Gage is President Donald Trump, who tweeted in 2012, “Video game violence & glorification must be stopped—it is creating monsters!”

The video game industry has a self-regulated rating system and age restriction on violent game purchases. But Gage said putting a state age restriction in place is worth “strongly considering.”

The House backed the resolution in a vote of 107-12.

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