Critics of Violent Films, Video Games Note the Call for Study, Not Controls

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Byline: Stephen Dinan, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

President Obama's plans to curb gun violence focus heavily on firearm restrictions and on mental health, but video games and movies - two cultural issues that many Americans blame for violence - got little attention Wednesday.

Mr. Obama said he would ask Congress to pump $10 million into the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for a study on the relationship between video games and violence, but didn't ask for any additional controls.

Congress should fund research into the effects that violent video games have on young minds, the president said. We don't benefit from ignorance. We don't benefit from not knowing the science of this epidemic of violence.

Mr. Obama didn't mention movies or television programs at all in his remarks.

It's a shift from last month, when Mr. Obama assigned Vice President Joseph R. Biden to head a task force to look more closely at a culture that all too often glorifies guns and violence, in addition to mental health and access to guns and ammunition.

Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle said they were disappointed by the administration's lack of focus on a culture that they said should shoulder part of the blame.

Rep. Marsha Blackburn, Tennessee Republican, said Mr. Obama missed the chance to talk about the potential impact violent video games and movies have on our kids.

Sen. Joe Manchin III, West Virginia Democrat, said the president should have established a national commission to look at all aspects of our culture of mass violence.

A national commission can build the consensus we need for real action backed not only by gun control advocates, mental health experts and entertainment industry executives but also by law-abiding gun owners who fully understand the history and heritage of firearms in America, he said.

Mr. Biden's task force did talk with video game and movie executives, but they merited scant mention in the seven-page executive summary the White House released Wednesday. Indeed, movies were relegated to the final paragraph, which said that part of the equation is up to parents.

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.

Ahead of Mr. Obama's speech, the entertainment industry warned the White House against going further.

Motion Picture Association of America chief Chris Dodd, a former U.S. senator from Connecticut who served in the Senate alongside Mr. Obama, told the Hollywood Reporter last week that he would vehemently oppose any government mandates to limit violence in movies.

After Mr. Obama's speech, several film industry groups released a statement welcoming further academic examination. …