Target: U.S. Representative Jim Matheson
Goal: Withdraw unconstitutional bill affecting the sale of violent video games
Violent video games are no strangers to controversy. Scientists, politicians, and parents have been trying to link the violent acts perpetrated in these games with real-life aggression and violence as far back as the early 1980s. The recent shooting in Newtown, Connecticut is the latest in a long list of public incidents of which video games were the supposed cause. After it was discovered that the shooter, Adam Lanza, played games such as Starcraft (a popular sci-fi war simulation game) and Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 (the newest in a long-running franchise of popular first-person shooter games), it wasn’t long before video games once again became the scapegoat.
U.S. Representative Jim Matheson, a Democrat from Utah, is now attempting to pass new legislation that would require much stricter regulations on the buying and selling of violent video games. The bill that Matheson is attempting to pass has two main components. The first would require vendors to clearly display a game’s rating and to check the identification of anyone who wanted to purchase a “mature” or “adult” rated game (both of which many stores already do). The second component would flat-out ban anyone below the age of 17 from purchasing any game rated “mature”, even if they had a parent or guardian accompanying them and would incur a fine of $5,000 on vendors that violated the bill’s legislation.
If this legislation sounds somewhat familiar it’s because this is the third time Matheson has tried to get it passed. He tried twice before in 2006 and again in 2008, both times failing because of the bill’s unconstitutional properties. Sadly, it would seem the concern expressed by President Obama in regards to the possible adverse affects of video game violence combined with the blame leveled at video games by N.R.A. executive vice president Wayne LaPierre has spurred Matheson into making a third attempt.
Not only is Matheson’s bill unconstitutional and in violation of the first amendment, it is also unnecessary. There is yet to be any definitive scientific proof linking real-world violence with video game violence. Many game retailers already have strict precautions in place that prevent underage customers from purchasing M-rated games even with a parent present. While Matheson’s intentions are noble, his efforts are anything but. Please help urge Matheson to withdraw his bill and to find more productive ways of curtailing gun violence in our country.
Dear U.S. Representative Jim Matheson,
While your efforts towards curtailing further gun violence after the horrific tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary are admirable, your plan to restrict a gamer’s choice and punish vendors is not. To this day there are still no definitive studies linking video game violence with real-world violence, no matter how much organizations such as the N.R.A. would have you believe otherwise.
While it is true that, if passed, your bill would curtail the sale of M-rated games to minors (an audience such games were never intended for), the fact of the matter is that, no matter what, many underage gamers are still going to find a way to get their hands on violent video games. Instead of wasting your time and money on passing a bill that would, in the long run, likely have very little effect on the amount of exposure a typical underage gamer has to violent media, I urge you to reconsider where best your priorities lie.
Violent games and the gamers that play them aren’t the problem. Rather than trying to find something to blame, should we not instead be focusing more on trying to find better ways of spotting violent offenders before they strike?
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: ChipperMist via Flickr