The debate over violent video games took another turn Monday as Missouri representative Diane Franklin (R) introduced a bill to the state House of Representatives that would tax the sale of games. The purpose is to fund treatment for "mental health conditions associated with exposure to violent video games."
The Missouri bill (HB #157) is almost an exact copy of a bill introduced in the Oklahoma Congress last February by William Fourkiller (D). The bill would levy a 1 percent excise tax on all violent video games sold in the state in addition to state sales sales tax.
According to the bill, violent video games is broadly and loosely defined as any game with an ESRB rating of Teen (T) or Mature (M). That means even non-violent games such as music rhythm games like Dance Central and Guitar Hero would be subject to the tax because the bill does not differentiate between ratings earned because of violence or language.
The bill was introduced by Franklin as an "emergency act" that is "necessary for the immediate preservation of the public health, welfare, peace, and safety."
The Oklahoma bill ultimately went down in defeat less than a month later after the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) called it "patently unconstitutional."
The debate over whether violent video games cause aggression in youth or to send someone on a murder rampage picked up again following the Sandy Hook Elementary school shooting in December. The Newtown, Connecticut police have yet to issue the results of their investigation into the shooter or what caused him to kill 6 adults and 20 first graders.
Vice President Joe Biden held a series of panels last week to determine what could be done about gun violence in the wake of the Newtown shooting. Representatives from the games industry attended but reports are that none of his recommendations to President Obama include anything related to violent video games.