Chairman John D. (Jay) Rockefeller IV today issued the following statement regarding the President's plan to better protect innocent Americans from gun violence.
"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.
"The President today announced a strong, comprehensive plan to protect our citizens from gun violence. In West Virginia, we have a proud tradition of hunting and understand the importance of the Second Amendment. We can protect those traditions and rights as we look at ways to prevent senseless acts of violence.
"Throughout my career, I've fought to reduce gun violence -- including supporting the original ban on assault weapons and high capacity magazines and eliminating loopholes in background checks for firearms purchases, as well as efforts to require child safety locks with every handgun purchase and prohibit domestic violence abusers from purchasing firearms. Today, I support steps that build on these ideas, while making sure our hunters' and sportsmen's rights are protected.
"The President's plan also moves us toward increased access to mental health services. Medicaid pays for the bulk of mental health services, and we need to clarify that Medicaid plans must comply with mental health parity requirements while improving mental health services across the country.
"I think everyone can agree that the impact of violent content on our kids' wellbeing is an important issue, and I'm glad this new plan will take a close look at it. I am working hard in the Senate to make sure this type of research -- which I have strongly backed throughout my career -- is available to inform our work on gun violence. Next week, I plan to reintroduce my bill to have the National Academy of Sciences study the link between violent content and children's behavior."
Chairman Rockefeller plans to introduce legislation next week to study the impact of violent content, including video games and video programming, on children. Under this legislation:
The National Academy of Sciences (NAS) would be directed to conduct a comprehensive study and investigation of the connection between violent video games and violent video programming and harmful effects on children.
Specifically, NAS would examine whether violent video games/programming cause kids to act aggressively or otherwise hurt their wellbeing, and whether that effect is distinguishable from other types of media. It also would look at the direct and long-lasting impact of violent content on a child's well-being.
With respect to violent video games, NAS must look at whether current or emerging aspects of games, like their interactive nature and the personal and vivid way violence is portrayed, have a unique impact on kids.
NAS must submit a report on its investigation to Congress as well as to the Federal Trade Commission and the Federal Communications Commission.