It’s time to turn off violent video games for good, community leaders in a Connecticut town say in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting that left 20 children dead last month.
Officials in Southington, a town of roughly 40,000 residents 30 miles southwest of Newtown, will hold the Violent Video Games Return Program on Jan. 12, offering $25 gift certificates to local businesses to anyone who turns in pugnacious games, music and movies. The merchandise will later be destroyed, according to SouthingtonSOS, a community organization launched following Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
“The group’s action is not intended to be construed as statement declaring that violent video games were the cause of the shocking violence in Newtown on December 14,” the organization said in a statement. “Rather, SouthingtonSOS is saying that there is ample evidence that violent video games, along with violent media of all kinds, including TV and movies portraying story after story showing a continuous stream of violence and killing, has contributed to increasing aggressiveness, fear, anxiety and is desensitizing our children to acts of violence including bullying.”
In a message to parents of students at Southington Public Schools, Superintendent Joseph Erardi Jr. said speaking to children about violent imagery, particularly as seen in video games, could “perhaps make our community just a bit healthier” while being respectful to the relatives of Sandy Hook victims.
“The community response with prayer and help to Newtown has been overwhelming with so many students, parents, and staff members all looking to assist in any way possible,” Erardi wrote in a message posted on Wednesday.
Erardi could not be reached for comment Friday.
Volunteers will be ready to accept violent media at the Southington Drive In Theatre on the Meriden-Waterbury Turnpike from 9 a.m. to noon. Those who cannot make the Jan. 12 collection can also call Erardi’s office at (860) 628-3202 to arrange another time.
Gunman Adam Lanza, 20, shot and killed his mother Nancy inside their Newtown home before driving to Sandy Hook Elementary, where he fatally shot 20 children and six adults before committing suicide as police arrived on Dec. 14. More than 400 students who escaped Lanza’s rampage returned to school Thursday in the neighboring town of Monroe, where a middle school that had been shuttered for nearly two years was overhauled and renamed after their old school.
National Rifle Association CEO Wayne LaPierre cited video games like “Grand Theft Auto” and “Bulletstorm” while decrying the violence in popular culture following the second-worst school shooting in U.S. history.
“There exists in this country, sadly, a callous, corrupt and corrupting industry that sells and sows violence against its own people, through vicious, violent video games with names like ‘Bulletstorm,’ ‘Grand Theft Auto,’ ‘Mortal Kombat’ and ‘Splatterhouse,’” LaPierre told reporters.
LaPierre also cited a game called “Kindergarten Killers,” in which a janitor goes on a rampage and shoots children.
“It’s been online for 10 years,” he said. “How come my research staff can find it, and all of yours couldn’t — or didn’t want anyone to know you had found it?
LaPierre continued: “Isn’t fantasizing about killing people as a way to get your kicks really the filthiest form of pornography?”