The Entertainment Merchants Association says retailers are making "proactive efforts to keep violent entertainment out of the hands of children."
In the wake of the massacre of 20 children and six adults at the Sandy Hook Elementary School last December, U.S. Vice President Joe Biden took the helm of a task force aimed at drafting new gun control legislation that would, among other things, reinstate the expired ban on "assault weapons." Biden is consulting with various agencies and groups as part of that process, a chorus to which Entertainment Merchants Association Interim President Mark Fisher recently added his voice.
Fisher explained the ESRB rating system, noting that while age restrictions can't be "given the force of law," they are nonetheless enforced by the "vast majority of computer and videogame retailers." The FTC, he added, has found that game retailers enforce age ratings more "vigorously" than those of any other entertainment medium, with a "ratings enforcement" rate of 87 percent, while R-rated DVD compliance rates are at 62 percent.
He also pointed out that the EMA is not opposed to further researcher into the impact of violent media on children as called for by Senator Jay Rockefeller. "We believe in the benefits of the accretion of knowledge and we are confident that additional studies will reach the same conclusions as the multitude of previous studies - that depictions of violence have a de minimis impact on real-world violence," Fisher wrote.
"As noted above, since the Columbine tragedy, the Federal Trade Commission has done numerous studies of the marketing of violent entertainment to children - seven in twelve years, plus additional undercover shopper surveys of ratings enforcement," he continued, pointing to studies published by the Department of Education, the Secret Service, the Surgeon General and the FBI, none of which found the consumption of violent videogames to be a causative factor in youth violence. "In light of these and other reports, we would recommend that, prior to recommending another review of this topic, the federal government take stock of its existing studies and determine what new knowledge could be generated."
The letter also spends considerable space attempting to head off potential discussions of restriction game sales by reminding the VP of the "Constitutional impediments to legal restrictions on violent entertainment," and ends with an invitation to further conversation "if it would be beneficial." The EMA's letter to Vice President Biden can be read in full on Google Docs.