In the wake of the Sandy Hook shooting, Pennsylvania State Senator Stewart J. Greenleaf introduced a resolution directing the Joint State Government Commission to study "the issue of violence prevention, to establish an advisory committee to conduct a thorough and comprehensive analysis of the underlying causes of violent crime, including mass shootings, and to report to the Senate with its findings and recommendations."
The resolution states that violent events such as Sandy Hook share many common themes such as "mental illness and mental health treatment, keeping firearms out of the hands of criminals and the mentally ill, school security, bullying, gang-related activity, educational issues and cultural influences, including violent video games."
In December 2013, the commission released its report, making 44 recommendations on the topics of media, mental health, responsible gun ownership, and school safety.
On the topic of media, the commission recommends that we not make celebrities out of perpetrators of violence, news media should keep public safety and ongoing police investigations in mind when reporting on violent incidents, and that parents should "take a more active role in screening and limiting children's exposure to media violence."
Finally, while the commission notes that no one's ever found a direct causal link between violent video games and violent behavior, it says the question of a "potential correlation" remains unresolved and more "evidence-based research on the possible effects of exposure to media violence should be encouraged."
The International Game Developers Association (IGDA) takes issue with the commission's media findings saying that it's report perpetuates logical fallacies, misrepresents the U.S. Supreme Court, selectively omits essential evidence, and loses the distinction between real violence and imaginary violence.
"Any useful conclusions in the report are marred by a persistent anti-game attitude that is still too common in government and the media," reads an IGDA press release.
"The Commission’s charge was 'to conduct a thorough and comprehensive analysis.' By omitting facts and logic to err so often on the anti-video game side, we reluctantly conclude that they failed at their task when it comes to video games... The Commission owes the people of Pennsylvania an amended report that corrects logical fallacies, removes guilt by association, includes the actual reasoning of its own members, accurately quotes the Supreme Court, and honestly acknowledges that the pro-censorship side has been repeatedly caught with flawed research."
For his part, Senator Greenleaf said, "The advisory committee has allowed for wide input from a variety of backgrounds and professionals including law enforcement and mental health experts. This allows for a fair, balanced, and bipartisan examination of this issue that establishes some guidelines for lawmakers. I hope that the Legislature will carefully consider this report. We have started a meaningful examination of violence, and now we can begin to take steps towards prevention."
-Reporting from San Diego, GamePolitics Contributing Editor Andrew Eisen