The tragedy of the Newtown school shooting is at risk of claiming another undeserved victim – video games.
Polygon reports that residents of Southington, a small community around 30 miles from the site of last month’s horrific shooting, has launched what it is calling The Violent Video Games Return Program. The initiative has been organised by SouthingtonSOS, which was set up in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and includes representatives from the Chamber of Commerce, YMCA, schools, the fire service and the church.
An event, which will take place on January 12th, will offer people $25 gift certificates in exchange for violent video games and other media such as music and movies. The items collected will then be incinerated.
“[There is a] need for parents to have a real, sound conversation with their children about video games," Southington School superintendent Joe Erardi told Polygon.
“There are youngsters who appear to be consumed with violent video games. 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. If parents are comfortable (with their child's gaming habits), we're comfortable."
An official SouthingtonSOS statement adds: "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.
"Rather, SouthingtonSOS is saying is 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."
Although the organisation has made of point of saying that it is not blaming games for the shooting, for observers outside of the US the move seems bizarre considering that any residents handing over violent media are free to then pop to their local Walmart or gun store and pick up a shotgun or rifle.
Indeed, the controversial National Rifle Association has moved to deflect the blame of gun violence onto games, with a Democrat Senator pushing the National Academy of Sciences toward a study of the effect of violent games.