Pennsylvania lawmakers want to tax violent video games

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Video games with violence have been a target for decades with activists and politicians wanting to censor them. Games like Grand Theft Auto and Mortal Kombat were attacked by former lawyer Jack Thompson, and Sega’s Night Trap for the Sega CD in 1992 had former senator Joe Lieberman going after it. Fast-forward to today, and we have three Pennsylvania lawmakers creating a bill that proposes a 10% excise tax on violent video games. The bill in question, House Bill 109, wants retailers to charge a 10% tax for Adult only and M-rated games, and the purpose of this is to help fund school safety measure.

According to the lawmakers, it’s not about censorship, but a way to get money to the “Digital Protection for School Safety Account.” The goal is to beef up security at schools due to the rise of school shootings.

The three responsible for the bill are Republican Rep. Chris Quinn, Democratic Philadelphia Rep. Ed Neilson and Democratic York County Rep. Carol Hill-Evans. Quinn believes that those who play violent video games have the potential for causing violent acts.

“Many have concluded that violent video games are a risk factor for potential violence,” said Quinn.

Video games already have state and local taxes, so the 10% tax would be added to those. For Pennsylvania, the video game sales tax rate is 6%, so if you were to buy a $59.99 game, it would end up as $63.59. If the bill passes, a game’s cost would go higher at $69.59.

Quinn believes that violent video games have helped with influencing school shootings when he did his previous bill in 2018. However, that bill didn’t become law.

“One factor that may be contributing to the rise in, and intensity of, school violence is the material kids see, and act out, in video games,” he said.

The lawmaker used the National Center for Health Research’s statement to help support his stance on violent video games. The research said that playing video games can increase aggression, but Quinn left out the other contributing factors mentioned in the statement like mental illness, adverse environments, and access to guns. In addition, the report says that “not all aggressive behaviors are violent” and there aren’t many studies that would make it conclusive.

The Entertainment Software Association has responded to the bill with a statement to Variety, saying that it’s against the U.S. Constitution.

“Numerous authorities–including scientists, medical professionals, government agencies, and the US Supreme Court–found that video games do not cause violence,” said the ESA. “We encourage Pennsylvania legislators to work with us to raise awareness about parental controls and the ESRB video game rating system, which are effective tools to ensure parents maintain control over the video games played in their home.”

There have been other bills made after the rise of school shootings, but these bills never passed including one from a Missouri state representative and a Connecticut lawmaker.

Source: NBC Philadelphia

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