The impact of media violence as a possible cause of mass violence incidents like Newtown is making an eleventh hour reappearance in Washington as the U.S. Senate readies to debate a gun control measure later this week.
In what could be bad news to the movie and media industry, on Wednesday Senators Pat Toomey, R-Penn., and Joe Manchin, D-W.V., included one extra element as they unveiled a bipartisan measure to extend background checks to guns bought at gun shows or over the Internet. Their plan calls for creating a National Commission on Mass Violence.
The commission would study possible causes of mass violence and look at all aspects of the problem, including guns, school safety, mental health, and violent media or video games.
The commission would be required to submit an interim report to Congress in three months and a complete report within six months,
It would consist of twelve experts, with six appointed by the Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev. and six appointed by the Speaker of the House John Boehner, R-Ohio.
"This commission is going to be made of people with expertise, people who have expertise in guns, people who have expertise in mental illness, people who have expertise in school safety and people who have expertise in video violence," Manchin said at a Capitol Hill news conference.
"We have a culture of violence and we have a whole generation who basically has been desensitized. If you go around and talk to the young people today, it just is what it is. We have got to find out how we can change and reverse that."
After the Newtown incident, President Obama asked Vice President Joe Biden to develop recommendations for lessening incidents of mass violence.
Biden met with a number of people including some from Hollywood and his final recommendations on Jan. 16 included one calling for the Center for Disease Control to conduct a study on "the causes and prevention of gun violence, including links between video games, media images, and violence." President Obama asked Congress to fund the study.
Subsequently Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller, D-W.V., a longtime critic of violence in the media, reintroduced legislation to get the National Academy of Sciences to do a similar study.
So far, however, no action has been taken on either.
The proposal by Toomey and Manchin and its attachment to the bipartisan gun check provision, immediately put the impact of violent media back into the mix. The gun check provision is expected to be key to any legislation winning Congressional approval, which would appear to make creation of the mass violence commission a near certainty.
For the movie and media industry, the question becomes what will the report say and what would Congress would do with any recommendations.
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- Joe Manchin
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