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February 21, 2013

Report links violent media, mental health and guns to mass shootings

National Science Foundation study was requested by Congressman following Sandy Hook massacre

A report compiled by an advisory committee to the National Science Foundation (NSF) details three major risk factors associated with mass shootings --exposure to violent media, mental health, and access to guns.

The report was requested by Rep. Frank Wolf, a Virginia Republican, following the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School. 

Wolf, chairman of the House Appropriations Commerce-Justice-Science (CJS) subcommittee, said the report supports his belief that rampage shootings are the result of multiple factors, including access to firearms, mental health issues, and exposure to violent media, including violent video games. 

Wolf said he was expecting to hear President Obama’s plan to address the role of media violence and mental health in episodes of mass violence during Tuesday’s State of the Union address, but was disappointed those topics were left out.

“To only focus on one piece of a large and complicated puzzle is irresponsible,” he said.

Outspoken lawmaker

Wolf, an outspoken lawmaker who has long represented a Northern Virginia district, has previously advocated measures that would prevent health insurers from placing discriminatory restrictions on mental health and addiction treatments, and has repeatedly cosponsored legislation aimed at protecting children from violent and sexually explicit video games and Hollywood films.

“While I recognize the potential constitutional issues involved in tackling media violence, mental health parity and gun control, I am disappointed that mental health issues and media violence were left out of the president’s address,” Wolf said.  “The president said that the victims of mass shootings, including Congresswoman Gabby Giffords, the college students at Virginia Tech, the children at Sandy Hook, the high school students at Columbine, and the movie-goers in Aurora all deserve a vote for gun control proposals. 

"How can he in good conscience call for that, but not acknowledge the fact that each one of the shooters in those events was mentally disturbed?  How could he not acknowledge the role that violent media played in some of their lives?  The president has failed the American people and the families of the victims by remaining frustratingly silent on these crucial issues and ignoring the other central factors related to mass violence of this kind,” Wolf said.

Violent games

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