By Matthew Higgins
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A Pennsylvania state lawmaker has introduced a bill to tax violent video games to fund school safety. State Rep. Christopher Quinn’s bill would put a 10 percent sales tax on video games that contain a mature rating due to violence, blood, gore and sexual content.
Quinn told CBS Philly it makes sense to come up with a funding source from the video game industry in an effort to protect schools.
“We have to find a funding source to take care of our schools. If you look at our schools today, we budget $16 million from the state to deal with the capital expenses to fortify the school. This would be $3.45 million,” said Quinn.
Quinn states that playing violent video games for hours at a time could have adverse effects on children.
“We’re exposing our kids to something that’s having a negative impact on them,” said Quinn.
In his memorandum seeking support for his bill, the Republican lawmaker from Delaware County wrote, “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. The National Center for Health Research recently posted an article finding ‘studies have shown that playing violent video games can increase aggressive thoughts, behaviors, and feelings in both the short-term and long-term. Violent video games can also desensitize people to seeing aggressive behavior and decrease prosocial behaviors such as helping another person and feeling empathy (the ability to understand others). The longer that individuals are exposed to violent video games, the more likely they are to have aggressive behaviors, thoughts, and feelings.'”
Quinn added that he has very little support of the bill, he says, in part, to the video game industry.
Entertainment Software Association told CBS Philly in a statement this this bill is a violation of the Constitution, citing the U.S. Supreme Court decision of Brown v. Entertainment Merchants Association & Entertainment Software Association where video games are entitled to the full protection of the Constitution.
“Numerous authorities – including scientists, medical professionals, government agencies, and the US Supreme Court – found that video games do not cause violence. 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,” the association said in a statement.
The tax collected under the bill would be put into the Digital Protection for School Safety Account to enhance school safety measures.