In a response to the Newtown, Conn. school massacre last month, Vice President Joe Biden met Friday with leaders in the video game industry.
This week, Biden also met with leaders in fields ranging from firearms and movies to mental health, religion, law and medicine. Through these dialogues, he and his task force plan on recommending to President Obama on Tuesday a response to gun violence in the US.
Biden said he and his task force are trying to take a holistic look at the cause of gun violence, which -- on Friday -- included talking to video game industry leaders.
At Video Games Etc! in Dubuque on Friday, Bryan Calcaterra and his friends were shopping for some games. For Calcaterra, gaming is a way of keeping in touch with people, he said.
"I can play with my uncle in Germany on X-Box and stuff like that, so it's just more of a social thing to me," Calcaterra said.
Store manager Dan Reinert said video games are not to blame for violent crimes.
"It's an easy target, just like it's easy to blame the movie industry," he said. "Look at the Batman movie. It's very easy to say, 'Well, that's a very disturbing movie to watch,' when, you know, it is, but it's something aimed at adults."
Each video game comes with a rating, such as E for "Everyone," T for "Teen" and M for "Mature," meaning parents and kids have fair warning of a game's contents.
"Some of them are marketed towards adults, and just as you wouldn't take a child to an R-rated movie, there are some games that are meant for adults, not for children, you shouldn't buy for children," Reinert said. "Then there are great games out there, (which) are focused for children: Scooby Doo, the Lego games."
Studies and experts are mixed over the influence violent media have on violent behavior, with some showing a direct correlation between the number of hours of TV a kid watches and his or her aggression and violent behavior.
"You want to talk about video games? By all means, talk about violence in entertainment and in media, but be willing to talk about everything, because it's not going to be a one-step solution," Reinert said. "There's more to the problem than just somebody playing a video game or somebody seeing a violent movie or listening to a song."
Biden and his task force also met with the National Rifle Association this week. NRA president David Keene said it's clear his organization and the Obama administration disagree on the approach to gun control, with the president in favor or banning assault weapons, limiting high-capacity ammunition magazines and conducting universal background checks for gun buyers.
Gun groups and the task force alike, however, agreed on the importance of keeping guns out of the hands of criminals and the mentally ill.
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