January 3, 2013
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A Connecticut community is to hold an amnesty of violent video gamesin the wake of last month's mass shooting in Newtown.
Organisers Southington SOS plan to offer gift certificates in exchange for donated games, which will be burned. The group, a coalition of local organisations, says its actions do not assert that video games were the cause of the killings in nearby Newtown, but argues that violent games and films desensitize children to "acts of violence".
Pupils from Sandy Hook elementary school, where 26 people were killed on 17 December, returned to classes for the first time on Thursday in the neighbouring town of Monroe. Sandy Hook elementary is still being treated as a crime scene and it is unclear if it will ever reopen.
The video game amnesty will take place on 12 January in Southington, a 30-minute drive east from Newtown. The town of Southington has provided a dumpster, organisers said, where violent video games, CDs or DVDs will be collected.
"As people arrive in their cars to turn in their games of violence, they will be offered a gift certificate donated by a member of the Greater Southington Chamber of Commerce as a token of appreciation for their action of responsible citizenship," the group said in a statement.
"Violent games turned in will be destroyed and placed in the town dumpster for appropriate permanent disposal."
John Myers, chairman of Southington YMCA and member of Southington SOS, was not immediately available to speak to the Guardian, but tech website Polygon reported that the works would be incinerated by town employees.
The press release accompanying the announcement said that Southington SOS's action should not be "construed as statement declaring that violent video games were the cause of the shocking violence in Newtown on December 14".
"Rather, Southington SOS is saying is 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.
"Social and political commentators, as well as elected officials including the president, are attributing violent crime to many factors including inadequate gun control laws, a culture of violence and a recreational culture of violence."
Police in Newtown have still not released a motive for why Adam Lanza killed his mother and 26 others, including 20 children, last month. But experts have disputed the link between violent video games and violence.
A study by Texas A&M university last year found that exposure to violent games "had neither short-term nor long-term predictive influences on either positive or negative outcomes". Christopher J Ferguson, one of the report authors, wrote in Time magazine in December that "there is no good evidence that video games or other media contributes, even in a small way, to mass homicides or any other violence among youth".
More than 400 students of Sandy Hook elementary returned to classes for the first time on Thursday at a school in Monroe. The school was heavily guarded by police with officers describing it as the "safest school in America", according to the Associated Press.
Danbury, the nearest large town to Newtown, had been due to host a gun show this coming weekend but the event was cancelled following the massacre in December. The show, which was set to span Saturday and Sunday, was organised by New York-based Big Al's gun shows but pulled after a number of complaints. A man answering the phone at Big Al's gun shows told the Guardian that the event had been permanently cancelled rather than postponed.