WASHINGTON — The video game industry, blamed by some for fostering a culture of violence, defended its practices Friday at a White House meeting exploring how to prevent horrific shootings such as the recent Connecticut elementary school massacre.
Vice President Joe Biden, wrapping up three days of wide-ranging talks on gun violence prevention, said the meeting was an effort to understand whether the United States was undergoing a coarsening of our culture.
I come to this meeting with no judgment. You all know the judgments other people have made, Biden said at the opening of a two-hour discussion. We're looking for help.
The gaming industry says that violent crime, particularly among the young, has fallen since the early 1990s while video games have increased in popularity.
There are conflicting studies on the impact of video games and other screen violence. Some conclude that video games can desensitize people to real-world violence or temporarily quiet part of the brain that governs impulse control. Other studies have concluded there is no lasting effect.
Biden is expected to suggest ways to address violence in video games, movies and on television when he sends President Barack Obama a package of recommendations for curbing gun violence Tuesday. The proposals are expected to include calls for universal background checks and bans on assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines.
Obama appointed Biden to lead a gun violence task force after last month's shooting at a Newtown, Conn., elementary school that left 20 children and six educators dead.
Gun-safety activists were coalescing around expanded background checks as a key goal for the vice president's task force. Some advocates said it might be more politically realistic – and even more effective as policy – than reinstating a ban on assault weapons.
The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence said some 40 percent of gun sales happen with no background checks.