ONTD Political

Missouri lawmaker wants tax on violent video games

9:16 pm - 01/16/2013
A Republican lawmaker from rural Missouri bucked her party's anti-tax bent on Tuesday and called for a sales tax on violent video games in response to a deadly Connecticut school shooting.

A Republican lawmaker from rural Missouri bucked her party's anti-tax bent on Tuesday and called for a sales tax on violent video games in response to a deadly Connecticut school shooting.

Rep. Diane Franklin, of Camdenton, said the proposed 1 percent sales tax would help pay for mental health programs and law enforcement measures aimed at preventing mass shootings. The tax would be levied on video games rated "teen," ''mature" and "adult-only" by the Entertainment Software Rating Board, the organization in charge of rating video games.

The rating board classifies games as "teen" if they contain violence, suggestive themes and crude humor. The popular music game "Guitar Hero" has a teen rating and would be taxed under Franklin's plan. Another popular title, "Call of Duty," has a mature rating and also would be subject to the sales tax. "Mature" games are deemed suitable for people 17 and older and may contain intense violence and gore.

"History shows there is a mental health component to these shootings," Franklin said, referring to the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting that killed 20 students and six adults in Newtown, Conn., and the Aurora, Colo., movie theater shooting that left 14 dead.

Franklin's plan is the latest in a string of measures proposed in response to recent mass shootings. Another Missouri Republican has filed a measure that would allow teachers to carry guns in the classroom. On the national level, Vice President Joe Biden is leading an effort to reduce gun violence and is expected to reveal recommendations Wednesday that include steps to improve school safety and mental health care, as well as address violence in entertainment and video games.

Franklin's proposal already faces opposition from the Entertainment Software Association, which represents companies that publish computer and video games.

"Taxing First Amendment protected speech based on its content is not only wrong, but will end up costing Missouri taxpayers," the association said in a written statement
.

Tax increases typically are a hard sell in Missouri. This past November, voters rejected a proposed tobacco tax increase for the third time in a decade, choosing instead to leave the state's cigarette tax at the lowest level in the nation. Republican legislative leaders and Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon both have taken stands against tax increases.

Other proposals to tax violent video games failed in Oklahoma in 2012 and New Mexico in 2008. In Oklahoma, Republican state Rep. William Fourkiller had proposed a violent video games tax to combat childhood obesity and school bullying, but his plan failed to make it out of a committee.

Other non-tax efforts to curb the effect of violent video games also have fallen short. U.S. Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W. Va., put forward a measure last year for the study of the impact of violent video games on children, but it failed. A California law banning the sale of violent games to minors was struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2011.

The Entertainment Merchant's Association sent a letter to Biden last week urging him to look elsewhere when it comes to his plans on gun violence.

"Make no mistake: blaming movies and video games is an attempt to distract the attention of the public and the media from meaningful action that will keep our children safer," wrote the merchant's association, a lobbying group for the home entertainment industry.

Others, however, have criticized the video game industry and its role in mass shootings.

"There exists in this country a callous, corrupt and corrupting shadow industry that sells, and sows, violence against its own people," National Rifle Association Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre said at a December news conference.

Franklin said she hopes her bill will "start a discussion" on the relationship between violent games and mental illness. Franklin, who has a granddaughter in kindergarten, added she is concerned about the safety of schools and universities in the state.

In 2008, there were 298 million video games sold in the U.S., generating $11.7 billion in revenue. Six of the 10 best-selling games included violence, and four carried a "mature" rating.

Franklin's bill was formally introduced Monday and must be referred and approved by a committee before being considered on the House floor.

source
lady_borg 17th-Jan-2013 05:28 am (UTC)
They are trying so hard to do everything but what will help
chaya 17th-Jan-2013 07:10 am (UTC)
mte
emofordino 17th-Jan-2013 11:44 am (UTC)
THIS. Everyone is blaming everything on video games, mental health, etc when it's obvious that America's rabid gun culture is what is making these tragic situations happen again and again.
wrestlingdog 17th-Jan-2013 04:47 pm (UTC)
For real.
astridmyrna 17th-Jan-2013 05:32 am (UTC)
The tax would be levied on video games rated "teen," ''mature" and "adult-only" by the Entertainment Software Rating Board, the organization in charge of rating video games.

So, pretty much all games then. May as well put a tax on movies PG and up, tv shows TV-G and up, and books that are T and up, regardless of how violence is treated in the media.

Really now, if people are so gung-ho about singling out video games and trying to encourage less violence in video games, have monetary incentives for companies who makes games where the player can solve problems without using guns.
roseofjuly 17th-Jan-2013 05:50 am (UTC)
That's not "pretty much all games." Only 5% of games are rated M and 21% of games are rated T by the ESRB.

http://www.joystiq.com/2011/03/15/esrb-breakdowns-say-5-percent-of-games-were-rated-m-in-2010/
astridmyrna 17th-Jan-2013 05:52 am (UTC)
I stand corrected, then.
maladaptive 17th-Jan-2013 01:16 pm (UTC)
I wonder if this is counting shovelware and casual games, though? Which count as games, yes, but when people think of gamers they don't think of the folks playing Bejeweled.

Though if it does count stuff like Bejeweled it makes a good point that games are not innately violent.
roseofjuly 17th-Jan-2013 02:00 pm (UTC)
I think if they counted shovelware and casual games the percentages would be even smaller, since casual games are marketed towards a very different demographic than Battlefield or CoD. But I don't think the ESRB rates popcapgames or shovelware.
waffled_flambe 17th-Jan-2013 06:42 pm (UTC)
May as well put a tax on movies PG and up, tv shows TV-G and up, and books that are T and up, regardless of how violence is treated in the media.

That was pretty much my first thought when I read this article. It's not like video games are the only form of entertainment that contribute to the glorification of violence in our culture, so I don't know why they always get scapegoated
bushy_brow 17th-Jan-2013 07:44 pm (UTC)
Because they're something the people that propose these things have virtually no experience with, would be my guess. Video games are something done by those OTHER people, who are social misfits. I mean, just LOOK at them! Or something like that. Also, this comes with the added benefit of the people proposing such things not having to personally sacrifice a damn thing.
ahzuri 17th-Jan-2013 05:35 am (UTC)
You know they put increasing taxes on cigarettes and alcohol but that doesn't stop folks from buying those.I have seen people scrounge up change to buy the cheapest and most vile of both of these. So I'm not really sure what this tax is really suppose to do other than net them more money.
miss_almost 17th-Jan-2013 05:32 pm (UTC)
this so much.
missjersey 17th-Jan-2013 05:46 am (UTC)
Omg that would mean a tax on The Sims.
bowtomecha 17th-Jan-2013 06:00 am (UTC)
I've done almost as much vile shit in that game as in GTA Vice City. Purposely drowning people or purposely killing them in a kitchen inferno is pretty violent too.

Actually I responded to this comment to say that a Sims/GTA hybrid game would be amazing.
astridmyrna 17th-Jan-2013 06:11 am (UTC)
OT but I always wanted an option in the Sims to rescue drowning Sims. I mean, you can win against the Grim Reaper and revive your electrocuted/starved/sick friends, but not drowned friends. Like, say that you gained enough mechanical skill on the surgery doll to jump in and revive your poor Sim.
mrasaki 17th-Jan-2013 07:21 am (UTC)
LOL now I'm imagining an expansion pack in which you can sneak over to your neighbor's house and steal their car (maybe with a bonus beating).

Ugh, that would be fun to do to the neighborhood NPCs, actually. I wouldn't have to have them die in the world's most suspicious kitchen fire, out in the backyard with nothing but a stove and hemmed in by flammable furniture.
wrestlingdog 17th-Jan-2013 04:48 pm (UTC)
NGL, I had the exact same reaction.
the_gabih 17th-Jan-2013 09:36 pm (UTC)
Oh goodness, yes. Though in fairness, I'm pretty sure I've done more sadistic stuff on The Sims and Rollercoaster Tycoon than I could have done on most other games (yay for almost drowning funnily-dressed mascots in park lakes!)
lady_borg 19th-Jan-2013 12:18 am (UTC)
Roller coaster tycoon, Omg I need that game back in my life.
the_gabih 19th-Jan-2013 11:21 am (UTC)
Heee, I know right? Haven't played it since I was like, ten.
roseofjuly 17th-Jan-2013 05:48 am (UTC)
Honestly, I don't have a problem with the tax itself. Most people who purchase video games can afford the tax and it's only 1%, which means that even on a $60 video game the tax will be about 6 cents. If 6 cents is enough to actually pay for mental health services and law enforcement, then go ahead, tax it.

I rather take exception to the unequivocal assumption that 1) video games lead to mass shootings (even if video games do correlate with more aggressive behavior, there's nothing suggesting that they cause it, much less cause school shootings) and 2) that mass shooters usually have some kind of mental health problem.
ohmiya_sg 17th-Jan-2013 05:52 am (UTC)
1% is 60 cents.
roseofjuly 17th-Jan-2013 01:28 pm (UTC)
I kept seeing .6 in my head and writing 6 cents. That's what I get for trying to do math lol
astridmyrna 17th-Jan-2013 06:07 am (UTC)
I rather take exception to the unequivocal assumption that 1) video games lead to mass shootings (even if video games do correlate with more aggressive behavior, there's nothing suggesting that they cause it, much less cause school shootings) and 2) that mass shooters usually have some kind of mental health problem.

See, this is the main problem I have with the tax, because even though it's great that the 60 cents is going to mental health and law enforcement, this tax is leading people to assume that violent video games and mental health problems are what create mass shooters. It doesn't create discussion about gun violence, but rather stifles it by placing the blame on one form of media. If they need to add a tax to pay for mental health and law enforcement, better have it be on all forms of entertainment (if we're to tax indiscriminately), create a gun and/or ammo tax, or increase sales and/or income tax.
lovedforaday 17th-Jan-2013 10:03 pm (UTC)
If only the Repubs in the MO legislature could be trusted to allocate the funds to the programs they're supposed to go to.
ohmiya_sg 17th-Jan-2013 05:51 am (UTC)
"There exists in this country a callous, corrupt and corrupting shadow industry that sells, and sows, violence against its own people," National Rifle Association Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre said

Yeah, it's called the NRA.
thepikey 17th-Jan-2013 07:40 am (UTC)
Projecting much, Wayne?
bowtomecha 17th-Jan-2013 05:56 am (UTC)
Whenever people say "History shows..." it makes me already want to dispute what they're saying.

Still... I don't see a problem with much needed money going to proper mental health care, even if this instance is pointing fingers at an unlikely culprit like video games.
fenris_lorsrai 17th-Jan-2013 06:04 am (UTC)
I assume they just are talking about the History Channel. soooooooo...



yup. that's about right.
moonshaz 18th-Jan-2013 01:34 am (UTC)
LOL!
dravvie 17th-Jan-2013 06:10 am (UTC)
Yes. Blame video games. *eyeroll*
mollywobbles867 17th-Jan-2013 06:18 am (UTC)
What a waste of fucking time.
shadowwolf1321 17th-Jan-2013 06:38 am (UTC)
Waste of fucking time.
mrasaki 17th-Jan-2013 07:18 am (UTC)
Ugh, violent video games, ever the popular whipping boy for anyone who wants a quick and easy 'fix' to their gun problems without actually having to do any real thinking or work.

Somehow, other countries in the world play violent video games and seem to survive just fine without horrific public shootings.
keestone 17th-Jan-2013 10:35 am (UTC)
So they're trying to add extra tax to the games that actually keep youths who are predisposed to violence off the streets and not harming anyone physically because they're too busy shooting pixels to find a real gun and shoot people? Yup, that'll help.

"Ward (2010) shows that adolescents who are otherwise predisposed to violence tend to select into video game play. Likewise, since the hours it takes to "beat the game" substitute for some other activity, a complete analysis must consider the opportunity cost of this time. Violence may fall because gamers engaged in virtual violence are not simultaneously engaged in actual violence."


"To date, there is no evidence that violent video games cause violence or crime. In fact, two recently published studies analyzed the effect of violent media (movies and video game stores) on crime, and found increased exposure may have caused crime rates to decrease"(Dahl and Dellavegna 2009; Ward 2011).


'Understanding the Effects of Violent Video Games on Violent Crime'
http://ocw.metu.edu.tr/pluginfile.php/5587/mod_resource/content/2/Cunnigham_Engelstaetter_2011.pdf

Edited at 2013-01-17 10:36 am (UTC)
tigerdreams 17th-Jan-2013 12:16 pm (UTC)
"There exists in this country a callous, corrupt and corrupting shadow industry that sells, and sows, violence against its own people," National Rifle Association Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre said at a December news conference.

Yeah, and you're its spokesman, douchestain. STFU. You don't get to make words.

Re: the video game tax -- I'd find it laughable how readily these conservatives are willing to sell out their own anti-tax principles to find a scapegoat for the gun violence problem our society has in order to protect their gun-lobby overlords, if I didn't find it so utterly enraging.
tigerdreams 17th-Jan-2013 12:29 pm (UTC)
Oh, and also? The ESRB is a self-regulatory organization, started by the video game industry in response to a demand for a ratings system. So laws like this provide an excellent incentive for the ESRB to under-rate games to dodge the tax -- meaning they become useless to parents who use those ratings to help determine appropriate media for their children. Helpful hint: don't financially penalize an industry for being honest about the contents of its products, because they'll stop.
wrestlingdog 17th-Jan-2013 04:50 pm (UTC)
I hate this fucking argument so much. SO not the point.
the_gabih 17th-Jan-2013 09:35 pm (UTC)
Because playing video games was so much more likely to inspire Adam Lanza than, say, the normalisation and number of actual guns in his life?
sophistiquated 17th-Jan-2013 11:06 pm (UTC)
Because only Americans play video games.
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