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Public Statements

Statements on Introduced Bills and Joint Resolutions

Floor Speech

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Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. ROCKEFELLER. Mr. President, I still well up with deep emotion when I see Newtown parents remembering their lost children, recalling what they wore to school that day or their last sweet words before boarding the school bus. The memory of that horrifying day, and of those children and their teachers, has not waned, nor should it ever. It should be an enduring call to action to do everything we can to save innocent lives.

That is why I have championed a comprehensive approach to combating gun violence, and support the President's plan to protect the Nation's citizens. West Virginians have a proud tradition of hunting and understand the importance of the Second Amendment. I know we can protect those traditions and rights as we look at ways to prevent senseless acts of violence.

One piece of this comprehensive examination concerns violent content, including video games and video programming. I have long had concerns about how the violent content that kids see and interact with every day affects their wellbeing. This is a very important issue, and one that deserves further research, as even the President recognized. That is why, as Chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, I am introducing today the Violent Content Research Act of 2013. Under this legislation, the National Academy of Sciences would conduct a comprehensive study on the connection between exposure to violent video games and video programming and harmful effects on children.

Recent court decisions demonstrate that some people still do not get it. They believe that violent video games are no more dangerous to young minds than classic literature or Saturday morning cartoons. Parents, pediatricians, and psychologists know better.

These court decisions show we need to conduct additional groundwork on this issue. This report would be a critical resource in this process. It could inform research by other organizations, including the Centers for Disease Control, and provide guidance to lawmakers. I call on my colleagues to join me in passing this important legislation quickly.

Separately, I will be calling on the Federal Trade Commission and the Federal Communications Commission to expand their work in this area. The FTC has reviewed the effectiveness of the video game ratings system. The FCC has looked at the impact of violent programming on children. Changes in technology now allow kids to access violent content on-line and increasingly from mobile platforms with less parental involvement. It is time for these two agencies to take a fresh look at these issues.

Major corporations, including the video game industry, make billions on marketing and selling violent content to children. They have a responsibility to protect our children. If they do not, you can count on the Congress to take a more aggressive role.

Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the text of the bill be printed in the Record.

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