Obama signs executive orders to curtail, research gun violence [Update: ESA responds]

Obama requests investigation into correlation between games and violence
President Barack Obama signed 23 executive actions today with the goal of suppressing gun violence and researching the effects of violent media on young minds. The actions supplement a proposed $500 million program to curtail gun violence, including implementing a universal background check for gun buyers, restoring a ban on military-style assault weapons and limiting magazines to 10 rounds, and developing emergency preparedness plans.

Obama mentioned video games once during the conference, asking Congress to provide $10 million for the Centers for Disease Control and other scientific agencies to research the causes of gun violence.

"While year after year, those who oppose even modest gun safety measures have threatened to defund scientific or medical research into the causes of gun violence, I will direct the Centers for Disease Control to go ahead and study the best ways to reduce it," Obama said. "And Congress should fund research into the effects that violent video games have on young minds. We don't benefit from ignorance. We don't benefit from not knowing the science of this epidemic of violence."

Obama's recommendations come after Vice President Joe Biden led a task force to investigate various industries and angles of curtailing gun violence, following the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut last month. He met with leaders in the video game industry, including EA's John Riccitiello, as part of his information-gathering tour.

"While there is no law or set of laws that can prevent every senseless act of violence completely, no piece of legislation that will prevent every tragedy, every act of evil, if there is even one thing we can do to reduce this violence, if there's even one life that can be saved, then we've got an obligation to try it," Obama said.

A summary of Obama's recommendations include the following steps: strengthen the background check system to keep guns out of the hands of criminals, help schools to hire more resource officers if they want them, develop emergency preparedness plans, clarify options that mental health professionals have for reporting threats of violence (acknowledging that those with mental health issues are more likely to be victims of violence rather than perpetrators), enacting a universal background check for anyone trying to buy a gun, restore a ban on military-style assault weapons and enact a 10-round limit on magazines, have Congress support severe punishments for criminal gun buyers and sellers, and placing more police officers on the streets.

Obama ended the conference by signing the executive orders, emphasizing the responsibility of Congress to enact his recommendations.

Update: The Entertainment Software Association, which was also represented at Biden's meeting with the video game industry, offers the following statement regarding Obama's announcement:

"ESA appreciates President Obama's and Vice President Biden's leadership and the thoughtful, comprehensive process of the White House Gun Violence Commission. We concur with President Obama's call today for all Americans to do their part, and agree with the report's conclusion that the entertainment and video game industries have a responsibility to give parents tools and choices about the movies and programs their children watch and the games their children play.

"The same entertainment is enjoyed across all cultures and nations, but tragic levels of gun violence remain unique to our country. Scientific research and international and domestic crime data all point toward the same conclusion: entertainment does not cause violent behavior in the real world.

"We will embrace a constructive role in the important national dialogue around gun violence in the United States, and continue to collaborate with the Administration and Congress as they examine the facts that inform meaningful solutions."

This article was originally published on Joystiq.