U.S. President Barack Obama has called on Congress to provide funding for research on violence in video games and possible connections to real-world gun violence as part of a wide-ranging package of policy moves announced Thursday.
Obama asked Congress to allocate US$10 million for a study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) looking at the relationship between video games, violence in the media and gun violence. The proposed study is one of several proposals Obama made in an attempt to address gun violence in the U.S. following a school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, a month ago.
Protecting U.S. children "is our first task as a society," Obama said. "This is how we will be judged."
About 30,000 U.S. residents die every year in gun-related incidents.
The CDC study is part of the White House's effort to end a congressional freeze on research about gun violence. Since the mid-1990s, Congress has prohibited the CDC and other federal agencies from researching the causes of gun violence.
"We don't benefit from ignorance," Obama said. "We don't benefit from not knowing the science of this epidemic of violence."
Several critics, including the powerful National Rifle Association, have pointed to violence in video games and movies as a possible cause for real-world violence in the U.S.
The entertainment and video game industries "have a responsibility to give parents tools and choices about the movies and programs their children watch and the games their children play," the White House said in a statement.
Obama also called on Congress to pass a law requiring background checks before all gun sales, including sales at gun shows. He also called on Congress to limit gun magazines to 10 rounds and to restore a ban on the sale of military-style assault rifles in the U.S., although there's wide disagreement over the definition of an assault rifle.
The Entertainment Software Association (ESA), a trade group representing video game makers, praised Obama and Vice President Joe Biden for a "thoughtful, comprehensive process" while engaging groups on possible solutions to gun violence. The trade group agrees that video game makers should give parents tools and choices, but it doesn't believe video games lead to real-world violence, the ESA said in a statement.
"The same entertainment is enjoyed across all cultures and nations, but tragic levels of gun violence remain unique to our country," the ESA added. "Scientific research and international and domestic crime data all point toward the same conclusion: entertainment does not cause violent behavior in the real world."
Grant Gross covers technology and telecom policy in the U.S. government for The IDG News Service. Follow Grant on Twitter at GrantGross. Grant's e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.