Pennsylvania Calls for a Tax on Violent Video Games

Pennsylvania Calls for a Tax on Violent Video Games

A bill has been proposed on "violent" video games in Pennsylvania that will see buyers get stuck with a 10% excise on mature and adult-only titles with the money going to the Digital Protection for School Safety Account

Pennsylvania lawmakers have decided to propose a bill that will see a 10% excise tax on violent video games. This isn’t the first time the state has pushed for this to happen as last year Rep. Christopher B. Quinn put forth the bill to the assembly where it lacked any kind of vitality.

The so-called “sin tax” is aimed at games that are rated by the ESRB as M for Mature or Adults-Only with the money then gathered from this tax going to a “Digital Protection for School Safety Account” fund where their main goal is to that aims to strengthen security measures at schools in the wake of the school shootings in Parkland, Florida and Newtown, Connecticut. Rep. Christopher B. Quinn believes that the rise in school violence coupled with a vague statement from the National Center for Health Research’s statement that tries to provide a link between violent video games and increases in aggressive thoughts and behaviors as the reason behind his proposal.

The only issue with that is that Quinn has seemingly only taken a very small position from what was wrote in the National Center for Health Research’s statement to back up his theory for this bill – other areas of the document explain that “Violence is a form of aggression, but not all aggressive behaviors are violent. Very few studies have looked at whether playing violent video games increases the chances of later delinquency, criminal behavior, or lethal violence. Such studies are difficult to conduct and require very large numbers of children”.

Chris Ferguson who is a professor of psychology and criminal justice at Texas A&M University who studies video game violence and has also completed a scholarship on mass homicides says “There is no good evidence that video games or other media contribute, even in a small way, to mass homicides or any other violence among youth.”…”In fact, during the years in which video games soared in popularity, youth violence has declined to 40-year lows. And while it’s natural, in such an emotional time, for people to search desperately for answers, that often results in misinformation.”

In 2013, Republican Diane Franklin who is a representative from Camdenton, Missouri proposed a bill to place a tax on the sale of “violent” video games with the money derived from this tax going to the state’s general revenue fund and to be used solely for the treatment of mental health conditions associated with “exposure” to violent video games. The bill was introduced one month after the schoolhouse massacre in Newtown, Connecticut, that left 20 children and six adults dead. This horrific disaster obviously had everyone in a panic, but thankfully the bill was then quashed a month later.

This particular proposal in question, called House Bill No. 109, has been referred to the Pennsylvania House of Representatives Finance Committee, and could very well be brought to a vote sometime this year. We will, of course, keep you updated with any further news regarding this “sin tax”.