President Obama proposes CDC study on media violence

By Steve Watts, Jan 16, 2013 11:30am PST

Following Vice President Biden's round of meetings with various industries, President Obama has unveiled his list of proposals for legislation and executive orders to curb gun violence. Among them is an order for the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to research the causes of gun violence, including violent media and video games.

A memorandum ordering the CDC research is just one of 23 executive actions that the president can take without help from the legislative branch. It is not directed at video games explicitly, but rather a general research on the causes of gun violence. He requested that Congress put $10 million into research on the possible connections between media and real-life violence.

In broader political terms, this move would ease restrictions on the CDC's ability to research gun violence. Since the 1990s, the scientific body has been forbidden from researching or advocating for gun control. By ordering the CDC to research the causes of gun violence, Obama is chipping away at that precedent.

Other measures include wider background checks, a national gun safety campaign, training for law enforcement to respond to active shooters, incentives for schools to hire resource officers, and appointing a director to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, among others.

As the Associated Press notes, the study is likely partly motivated by political strategy. Some lawmakers have signaled openness to gun control regulation if paired with other suggestions like addressing violence in the media.

The Entertainment Software Association (ESA) commented on Obama's orders, saying "We concur with President Obama's call today for all Americans to do their part, and agree with the report's conclusion that '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.'"

Adding, "the same entertainment is enjoyed across all cultures and nations, but tragic levels of gun violence remain unique to our country. Scientific research and international and domestic crime data all point toward the same conclusion: entertainment does not cause violent behavior in the real world."

"We will embrace a constructive role in the important national dialogue around gun violence in the United States, and continue to collaborate with the Administration and Congress as they examine the facts that inform meaningful solutions," the organization told Polygon.

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