Connecticut Speaker of the House Brendan Sharkey (D-Hamden) has sent a letter to top executives at the ESA, Activision Blizzard, Take-Two Interactive, and Valve urging them to end the practice of licensing and marketing products from gun manufacturers for video games. The letter was addressed to Take-Two CEO Strauss Zelnick, Activision Blizzard CEO Robert Kotick, Valve front man Gabe Newell, and Entertainment Software Association CEO Michael Gallagher.
In his letter, Sharkey urges these leaders to end all licensing and product placement agreements with gun-makers, which he calls "nefarious" and a possible contributing factor to the Newton school shooting last year that resulted in the deaths of 20 children, six adults, and the gunman that committed the brutal crime.
"The industry practice of video game publishers entering into licensing, marketing, or other financial arrangements to feature real guns in their games blurs the lines between fiction and reality in ways that can have tragic consequences," Sharkey wrote in his letter.
Sharkey also pointed out that the Sandy Hook shooter was "an active Call of Duty player," who used a rifle manufactured made by gun maker Bushmaster to commit his crime.
"We have to take steps to institute meaningful change in the way we portray, and effectively market, assault weapons to children and young adults," Sharkey wrote. "Games designed to recreate the experience of wartime carnage and criminal violence constitute protected speech under the provisions of the First Amendment. But there is little to be said in defense of an industry-wide practice of arranging licensing deals with gun manufacturers for the rights to use the make, model, and visual design specifications of their real-life weapons."
Take-Two, Activision Blizzard, Valve, and the ESA have not publicly commented on this story.
You can read the letter here.