WASHINGTON -- House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Sunday pushed back against the argument that violent video games are responsible for mass shootings in the United States, pointing to other countries where similar games are played but rates of shooting deaths are low.
As part of their larger effort to address mass shootings in the wake of the tragedy in Newtown, Conn., House Democrats are proposing using federal dollars for scientific research on the "relationship between popular culture and gun violence."
On "Fox News Sunday," host Chris Wallace challenged Pelosi on this plan, saying she should instead simply go to her "friends in Hollywood" and "shame them" into action.
"As part of your plan, you call for more scientific research on the connection between popular culture and violence. We don't need another study, respectfully," said Wallace. "I mean, we know that these video games, where people have their heads splattered, these movies, these TV shows -- why don't you go to your friends in Hollywood and challenge them? Shame them, and say, 'Knock it off?'"
Pelosi responded that Democrats wanted concrete scientific evidence in order to write the best legislation possible, and countered that Wallace's assumption about violence in the media could be incorrect.
"I understand what you are saying," Pelosi said. "I'm a mother, I'm a grandmother. But, they -- not Hollywood, but the evidence -- says that, in Japan, for example, they have the most violent games and the lowest death -- mortality -- from guns. I don't know what the explanation is for that except they may have good gun laws."
When looking at the other largest video game markets around the world, there appears to be no statistical correlation between video game consumption and gun-related killings. Max Fisher at the Washington Post recently examined some of this data and found that "countries where video games are popular also tend to be some of the world’s safest (probably because these countries are stable and developed, not because they have video games)."
In 2011, the Supreme Court struck down a California law banning the sale of violent video games to minors. Justice Antonin Scalia, writing for a 7-2 majority, said the law was "unprecedented and mistaken" and noted that even fairy tales have "no shortage of gore."
Pointing the finger at the violent content of media is not without precedent. In the 1950s, for example, Congress looked at whether "crime and horror" comic books were affecting juvenile delinquency.