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Violent video games

The main sponsor on the U.S. legislation that banned many assault weapons in the 1990s is now talking about regulating violent video games in the future.

Speaking to an audience of 500 people in her hometown of San Francisco, U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) said that game publishers need to make voluntary actions to avoid glorifying guns and violence following the Newtown elementary school massacre in December.

She noted that Congress would take action if the industry didn’t do something, according to the Associated Press.

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“If Sandy Hook doesn’t [make game publishers change] … then maybe we have to proceed, but that is in the future,” said Feinstein.

She went on to claim that video games play “a very negative role for young people, and the industry ought to take note of that.”

Feinstein’s Washington, D.C. office has not returned our calls for a comment.

This isn’t the first time a national lawmaker threatened to regulate video games. In 2011, the Supreme Court of the United States struck a California law that would ban the sale of violent games to minors. The court voted 7-2 to block the law based on the protection afford to expression under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

Following the events in Newtown, several other politicians have spoken out about the relation of games to real-world violence. In January, Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) said that he believes “video games [are] a bigger problem than guns because video games affect people.” Last month, Rep. Diane Black (R.-Tenn.) claimed that the perpetrator in the Sandy Hook shooting was fueled by “unprecedented levels of violent games, music, and so on.”

In December, Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) actually introduced a bill to congress to investigate the effect of violent games on children.

Feinstein’s call for the industry to self-regulate is also an odd one in face of the Entertainment Software Ratings Board. This voluntary regulating body is one of the most effective in the country. A recent FTC study revealed that it is more difficult for an underage consumer to buy an M-rated game (for ages 17 and older) at retail than it is for them to see a violent film in a movie theater. The ESRB took credit for those results as it works with publishers and retailers to educate and enforce the age-rating system.

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