President Donald Trump pointed to violent films and video games as possible causes for real-life violence by American youth in the wake of last week’s fatal shooting in Parkland, Fla. in which a 19 year-old using a legally purchased, semi-automatic, military-style AR-15 rifle murdered 14 teenage students and 3 teachers.
During a meeting on school safety at the White House on Thursday (Feb. 22), Trump met with attorney general Jeff Sessions, health and human services secretary Alex Azar, domestic policy counsel director Andrew Bremberg, White House chief of staff John Kelly, secretary of education Betsy DeVos and adviser Kellyanne Conway, among other local officials.
“We have to look at the internet because a lot of bad things are happening to young kids and young minds and their minds are being formed, and we have to do something about maybe what they’re seeing and how they’re seeing it,” said Trump. “And also video games. I’m hearing more and more people say the level of violence in video games is really shaping young people’s thoughts. And you go one further step and that’s the movies. … maybe they have to put a rating system for that.”
Video games are rated by the Entertainment Software Rating Board, which was founded in 1994, using a combination of six age-based levels that take into account aspects such as violence, language and “mature” content. Games rated “M” can only be purchased by customers 17 years of age and older, while “AO (Adults Only)” rated games require purchasers to be 18 and older. Mature content listed in the categories include “intense and/or realistic portrayals of violence (such as blood, gore, mutilation, and depictions of death), stronger sexual themes and content, partial nudity, and more frequent use of strong language.”
Similarly, the MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America) also rates films based on their content across five age-based categories, with restrictions placed on the “R” and “NC-17” categories barring movie-goers under the age of 17 from purchasing tickets.
Trump’s comments on violent media echo Republican Kentucky governor Matt Bevin’s comments earlier this week. “There are games that literally replicate and give people the ability to score points for doing the very same thing that these students are doing inside of schools, where you get extra points for finishing someone off who’s lying there begging for their life,” Bevin said.
Republican Rhode Island representative Robert “Bobby” Nardolillo proposed legislation that will call for a tax on video games rated “M” or higher earlier this week.
The debate over violent video games is nothing new and has bridged across the political aisle. In 2005, then-Sen. Hillary Clinton called for a ban on sales of mature games to minors, promoting legislation that would make it a criminal act. “We need to treat violent video games the way we treat tobacco, alcohol, and pornography,” Clinton said at the time. “If you put it just really simply, these violent video games are stealing the innocence of our children — and it is certainly making the job of being a parent even more difficult.”
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This article originally appeared on THR.com.