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Issue Date: Vol. 53, No. 3, March 2013, Posted On: 2/21/2013

Conn. Shooter Is Portrayed As Video Gamer; Bill Would Impose 'Sin Tax' On Violent Games

Nick Montano
TAGS: videogame , video game violence, Adam Lanza, Sandy Hook Elementary School, video game sin tax, DebraLee Hovey, 10% "sin tax" on consumer videogames, Mature content, rated M, Anders Breivik

NEWTOWN, CT -- Police here said they found thousands of dollars' worth of consumer videogames in the home of Adam Lanza, who massacred 26 people at Sandy Hook Elementary School on Dec. 14.

It was the first credible confirmation of widespread speculation and frequently repeated charges that Lanza was a heavy player. Media reports and politicians have blamed so-called violent games for the shooting since it occurred.

In a related story, state Rep. DebraLee Hovey, who represents Sandy Hook, a village of Newtown, has proposed a bill to impose a 10% "sin tax" on consumer videogames that carry the "M" rating for "Mature" content.

Hovey told a local TV news reporter that the purpose would be to make purchasers think more carefully about what they were buying.

Proceeds from the tax would be earmarked for what supporters call public education about game content and what detractors might term anti-game propaganda.

Investigators also told CBS News that Lanza viewed himself as an emulator -- or competitor -- of Anders Breivik, the Norwegian who shot 77 people in 2011.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Experts have cast doubts on the assertions that Lanza was influenced by violent videogames and Breivik's rampage. And Connecticut State Police have dismissed the CBS report as speculation. "There is no basis to the CBS story," Connecticut State Police Lt. Paul Vance said in a statement read on CNN. "We have not established a motive. It's inaccurate." Experts in the criminal-justice community are similarly skeptical of ascribing violent behavior to videogames. See story The Christian Science Monitor

According to a story filed by PBS Frontline and the Hartford Courant, Lanza had been diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome, a form of autism. Psychologists have stated that Asperger's is not correlated with violent behavior.

Christopher J. Ferguson, chair of the psychology and communication department at Texas A&M International University, said in a special exclusive for CNN that "there is no evidence linking violent games to mass shootings."

The U.S. Secret Service discredited the theory that violent media is linked to mass murder in 2002 when it found that school shooters were not exposed to high volumes of violent media, said Ferguson.

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