Monday, February 19, 2018

Biden says 'no silver bullet' in dealing with violence

WASHINGTON — Vice President Joe Biden culminated a week of meetings on gun policy Friday, telling representatives of the video game industry that "there's no silver bullet" when it comes to confronting gun violence.

"We know this is a complex problem," he added, emphasizing the diversity of groups he has consulted since the initiative began in late December, including law enforcement, medical groups, hunters and gun owners, and the entertainment industry. That range, he said, proved that the video game industry has not been not been singled out.

"I come to this meeting with no judgment. You all know the judgment other people have made," Biden told the meeting's attendees, who included executives from major video game producers such as Electronic Arts and the Entertainment Software Association. Attorney General Eric Holder and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius also attended.

Biden asked if there has been a "coarsening of our culture," but added: "I do not know the answer to that question."

Following the school shooting in Newtown, Conn., in which 20 young students and six school staffers were killed, some advocates called for an examination of how violent movies and video games could contribute to carnage. On Friday, Massachusetts authorities pulled violent video games from rest stops across the state.

One of the fiercest critics of the video game and entertainment industry has been the National Rifle Association. Wayne LaPierre, the group's executive vice president, lambasted the game industry as "a callous, corrupt and corrupting shadow industry that sells and stows violence against its own people through vicious, violent video games," in a December news conference.

"In a race to the bottom, media conglomerates compete with one another to shock, violate and offend every standard of civilized society by bringing an even more toxic mix of reckless behavior and criminal cruelty right into our homes every minute, every day, every hour of every single year," he added.

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, who pledged Thursday to get his policy recommendations to the president by Tuesday, took a softer approach to his deadline on Friday.

"I'm shooting for Tuesday," he said. "I hope I get it done by then."

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.

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