Religious groups back Obama’s call for CDC to study whether video games are linked to gun violence

Source: The Hill

By Jennifer Martinez

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Two leading religious groups on Friday voiced support for President Obama’s call for Congress to appropriate $10 million for the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to study gun violence and possible links to violent video games and media images.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America said more research needs to be done to understand the effect that violent entertainment content has on young children.

“We know that media influences young people and their behavior,” Helen Osman, secretary of communications for the U.S. bishops’ conference, said in a statement. “So it is crucial to deepen our understanding of how violent media images and video games influence them and whether there is a link to violent behavior.”

The proposal for the CDC to conduct gun-related research was part of the sweeping plan Obama unveiled this week that’s aimed at curbing gun violence in the U.S. It would reverse a congressional ban that prevents the CDC from using funds to conduct research on gun violence that may advocate or promote gun control.

In the meantime, Obama plans to issue a presidential memorandum that will direct the CDC and scientific agencies to study the causes of gun violence and how to reduce it.

“We don’t benefit from ignorance,” Obama said this week at the unveiling of his plan to curb gun violence. “We don’t benefit from not knowing the science of this epidemic of violence.”

The Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America backed Obama’s call for additional research to be conducted on the issue.

“This research will be beneficial not only to the effort to curb gun violence but also providing deeper insight into the relationship of children and media overall,” said Father Mark Arey, ecumenical officer of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, in a statement.

Obama’s gun violence plan is the administration’s answer to a spate of mass shootings that took place in the U.S. over the past year, including December’s shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., that took the lives of 20 young children.

The vote of support for Obama’s proposal is a notable move for the U.S. bishops’ conference, which has recently come down hard on the administration for its policies on birth control and abortion.

The entertainment and video game industries have come under increased scrutiny this year following the Sandy Hook shooting and July’s shooting at a movie theater in Aurora, Colo. Lawmakers and the National Rifle Association have said violent movies, TV shows and video games are partly to blame for inciting real life violence.

The video game lobby, in particular, has said past scientific research and data have shown that violent entertainment content is not linked to real life violence. However, both lobbies from the entertainment and video game industries have said they look forward to finding “meaningful solutions” to gun violence and met with Vice President Biden last week to discuss the matter.

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