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NSF Subcommittee Report Includes Violent Media as Mass Shooting Risk Factor

Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.) released a National
Sciences Foundation advisory committee report
that identified violent media
as one of three major risk factors associated with mass shootings.

Wolf is chairman of the Commerce-Justice-Science
subcommittee, which requested the report, essentiallya review of existing research, following the Sandy Hook shootings.

The report was prepared by the Subcommittee on Youth violence
of the Advisory Committee to the Social Behavioral and Economic Sciences
Directorate of NSF. Even so, the report also makes clear that it does not
necessarily reflect the view of the NSF.

Wolf has said he believes such mass killings are the result
of a combination of factors including access to mental health, access to
firearms (the two other major risk factors identified in the report) and access
to violent media, including video games.  

Wolf said last week he was disappointed the president did
not talk about media violence and mental health when talking about violence in
the State of the Union address. ""While I recognize the potential
constitutional issues involved in tackling media violence, mental health parity
and gun control, I am disappointed that mental health issues and media violence
were left out of the president's address," Wolf said in a statement.

But he did not appear to be advocating for censorship. Wolf
pointed to one of the report's findings that suggested solutions for addressing
media violence were "warning labels, establishing a universal rating
system that would make ratings among all types of media uniform and easier to
understand, and educating parents."

Various entertainment associations, including the Motion
Picture Association of America, have also emphasized ratings and education,
though stopping short of drawing a causal connection between violent media and
real world violence. Last week, MPAA Chief Chris Dodd said that mental health
should be a focus of government effort.

Wolf says he is considering legislation that would require
violence-lite versions of video games and with, say, blue rather than red,
blood, as they do in Europe.

"On behalf of children and families across the country, we
commend Rep. Wolf for keeping the issue of media violence at the forefront by
requesting this report," said Parents Television Council president Tim
Winter. "Rep. Wolf has long been an advocate for measures that would
protect children from violent and sexually explicit media, and we see this
report as a positive step towards meaningful change."