It’s been a month of change since the Dec. 14 shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn., where 20 children and six adults were killed by a gunman. The alleged gunman also reportedly played video games, some of which are violent. That association with violence and guns has many in the government worried, including the Massachusetts Department of Transportation, which has subsequently pulled nine video games from the state’s rest area plazas.
The move was prompted by a letter from a couple who were driving with their kids from New York to Boston on Christmas Eve, reports NBCNews. The letter reads, in part:
Just outside the rest rooms was a young man pointing a life-sized machine gun at one of the plaza’s video game machines, firing rapidly and with a loud rat-tat-tat-tat-tat-tat sound. The image of the tragic shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School immediately came to mind, and we were struck by the possibility that someone from the Newtown community, driving east for the Christmas holiday, might stumble across this scene. We don’t believe that violent video games are the singular cause of mass shootings; there are multiple and complex contributing factors. But games with realistic-looking and sounding plastic assault weapons, which likely desensitize players to the realities of mass destruction, have no place in state-sponsored highway rest stops.
In the letter the couple asked the DOT to remove such games from public spaces, and the press secretary says her department decided to do so with nine games that had shooting components.
“We looked at this request as sort of common sense … in light of the proximity to Newtown — proximity in terms of both time and distance,” she said.
There has been no definitive link between playing violent video games and the actions of the Newtown shooter, and the video game community is fighting back against claims that video games can influence people to commit violent acts in real life. The makers of such games are rallying support in Congress as the government weighs regulating the industry.
Last Friday Vice President Joe Biden met with representatives from the industry, who urged the veep not to take out all the blame on “one of the most popular new forms of art and entertainment” while he tries to come up with ways to stem gun violence.
After the meeting was over, representatives from the Entertainment Software Association told NBC News in a statement that, “ The video game industry had a productive and candid conversation with Vice President Biden … We expressed in the meeting that the United States Supreme Court recently affirmed that the independent, scientific research conducted to date has found no causal connection between video games and real-life violence.”
Biden is likely going to include suggestions on how to address violent video games when he sends President Obama his recommendations for helping to stop gun violence.