The White House's anti-gun violence initiatives include directing the Centers for Disease Control to study the best ways to reduce violence and calling on the Congress to fund specific research on the effects of violent video games and other media on real world violence.
At a press conference surrounded by kids and in front of an audience that included gun violence survivors and families of victims, the president announced a series of steps to address violence recommended by Vice President Joe Biden after conversations with gun control advocates, and opponents, media, academics and others. And more than announce, he signed 23 executive actions (orders).
One of those was a memorandum directing the CDC to "conduct research on the causes and prevention of gun violence, including links between video games, media images, and violence."
The White House's online copy of the initiatives asserts that while Congress has for years been blocking the use of funds for research on the causes of gun violence as money to "advocate or promote gun control," which is prohibited. The President says its own legal anlysis finds that language does not prevent such research. In the short term, he said, the CDC will immediately "assess existing strategies for preventing gun violence and identifying the most pressing research questions," and called on Congress to provide $10 million for research into the relationship of violent media and violence.
The president said he would use the might of his office to do what he could, but that it would take the American people demanding change to make the initiatives a reality.
The Motion Picture Association of America, National Association of Broadcasters, and National Cable & Telecommunications Association, in a joint statement backed the President's goal and appeared OK with the new research effort. "We support the President's goal of reducing gun violence in this country," they said in a statement. "It is a complex problem, and as we have said, we stand ready to be part of the conversation and welcome further academic examination and consideration on these issues as the President has proposed."
"We applaud the President's leadership in pursuing actions to reduce gun violence in America," said Common Sense Media CEO James Steyer in a statement. "Parents across this country have expressed their strong concern about the possible influence of media violence on their children, and about how hard it is to shield their kids from such gratuitous violence that is marketed to them from a very young age. By calling on Congress to direct $10 million to the Center for Disease Control for research on the possible linkage between violent video games and other media images and acts of violence, our country is taking an important first step towards protecting the most vulnerable among us."
Common Sense advocates for more tools to help parents monitor their kids media consumption. That includes supplying content ratings and reviews to some major media players. including Comcast, Disney and NBCU.
The president was focused on gun control, however, saying he recognized that there was a Second Amendment right for individuals to own guns, but suggested that owning automatic weapons with magazines holding more than 10 rounds is not an inalienable right. Instead, he said, people in Aurora, Colo., and Newtown, Conn., and elsewhere had been denied their right to peaceably assemble.
The president wants a ban on assault weapons, background checks and limits on magazines, but recognizes it will be an uphill climb in Congress, where the Republican-controlled House is unlikely to fall in line.
Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W. Va.) has proposed funding research on the impact of violent media on kids, a long-time issue for the senator.