Video Games, Taxes, and Mental Illness

 Video games and their increasingly violent nature has been a hot debate ever since they were invented. Parents and concerned peoples were worried that exposing children to such violent  and illegal behavior, such as in GTA or Call of Duty, would inadvertently cause violent behavior in the children that are playing these games. The counter argument to this theory is that these violent video games provide an outlet for kids to release their anger in a safe, non-violent manner. No definitive evidence has been proved for either case. 

However, because of the recent mass shooting events at Sandy High School and the Batman Theatre, this issue is an even hotter debate than usual. In fact, this issue has even caught the attention of the President of the United States and his federal government team.The Obama Administration is looking into doing studies to provide evidence to prove or disprove these aggressive theories. 

Rep. Diane Franklin of Missouri is attempting to impose a 1% tax increase on video games rated Teen, Mature or Adults Only. She believes that there is a correlation between mental illness, these mass shootings, and video games. In short, she is saying that violent video games cause mental illness, and that mental illness causes the person to commit mass shootings. This is obviously the opinion of someone who has never played a violent video game before. There is even talk about placing warning labels on these video games cautioning these kids and their parents that violent video games can cause mental illness. 

The ESA is countering Franklin’s taxation proposition with the argument that taxing free speech, which is protected by the First Amendment, is not only wrong but illegal. 
Essentially, the Federal Government is attempting to place violent video games in the same category as deadly products such as cigarettes. It is a proven fact that cigarettes are deadly, therefore they are regulated, not sold to minors, contain warning labels and taxed. The government is trying to do the exact same thing with video games, except without ANY definitive proof. 

Luckily, video games seem to be protected under the First Amendment, leaving these proposed laws with a grim hope of ever becoming real laws. 

Sources: Forbes