A community group formed after the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, is offering gift tokens to people who turn in their violent videogames to be destroyed.
Based in Southington, Connecticut, less than 30 miles from Newtown, the group, named SouthingtonSOS is holding a trade-in event on 12 January as part of its Violent Video Games Return Program where videogames and other violent media can be exchanged for gift certificates donated by the Greater Southington Chamber of Commerce.
In a statement reported by Polygon, SouthingtonSOS said it hoped to promote "responsible citizenship".
"The group's action is not intended to be construed as statement declaring that violent video games were the cause of the shocking violence in Newtown on December 14th," it said.
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"Rather, SouthingtonSOS is saying that there is ample evidence that violent video games, along with violent media of all kinds, including TV and movies portraying story after story showing a continuous stream of violence and killing, has contributed to increasing aggressiveness, fear, anxiety and is desensitizing our children to acts of violence including bullying.
"Social and political commentators, as well as elected officials including the president, are attributing violent crime to many factors including inadequate gun control laws, a culture of violence and a recreational culture of violence."
The games, CDs and films traded in to SouthingtonSOS will be collected for "appropriate permanent disposal." Polygon also spoke with Joe Erardi, Southington School superintendent and a member of SouthingtonSOS:
"There are youngsters who appear to be consumed with violent video games," Erardi said. "I'm not certain if that's a good thing. If this encourages one courageous conversation with a parent and their child, then it's a success. We're suggesting that for parents who have a child or children who play violent video games, to first of all view the games. We're asking parents to better understand what their child is doing. Have a conversation about next steps."
In the wake of the Sandy Hook shooting, US Senator Jay Rockefeller introduced a bill that would commission the National Academy of Sciences to investigate the psychological effects of violent games on children. In a statement published by Bloomberg, Senator Rockefeller said "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."
The National Rifle Association has also blamed the shooting that left 28 people dead on 14 December, 2012 on videogames. In a press conference, NRA executive vice president Wayne LaPierre called videogames a "callous, corrupt, and corrupting shadow industry that sells and sows violence against our own people" citing games like Grand Theft Auto and Mortal Kombat.
The Daily Mail reported that Sandy Hook shooter Adam Lanza was a fan of first-person war simulator Call of Duty, claiming that the assault rifle he used during the killing was similar to the weapons found in the game. The Daily Mail also spoke to Justice Antonin Scalia, who said that videogames are protected by the to free speech and that no scientific evidence had been found to link them to violent behaviour:
"[Games] 'are as much entitled to the protection of free speech as the best of literature," said Scalia. "Psychological studies purporting to show a connection between exposure to violent video games and harmful effects on children do not prove that such exposure causes minors to act aggressively."
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