Biden Meets With Video Game Makers To Discuss Gun Violence

Vice President Joe Biden wrapped up a week of White House meetings regarding gun violence and gun safety by meeting with a group from the video game industry — makers of games that have been criticized for glamorizing gun violence.

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From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block.

It has been a week of talk about gun violence, and in this part of the program, we'll hear about the wrap-up of several days of White House meetings that are aimed at eventual action. We'll also hear from the president of the National Rifle Association about the NRA's views on gun laws.

First, the White House effort. Vice President Biden has been leading that. He's consulted with a wide array of stakeholders: advocates for and against gun control, victims, retailers and mental health organizations. And he's met with the entertainment industry; last night, a closed-door meeting with TV, movie and music producers. Today, the video game industry, as NPR's Ari Shapiro reports from the White House.

ARI SHAPIRO, BYLINE: The rapper M.I.A. discovered something catchy with her megahit "Paper Planes." The sound of gunfire makes a tight hook.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "PAPER PLANES")

MATHANGI ARULPRAGASAM: (Rapping) All I want to do, and a, and take your money.

SHAPIRO: The group Foster the People had a sunnier-sounding hit with their song "Pumped Up Kicks." You can listen to it a bunch of times before realizing the lyrics describe a kid with a gun walking into a school and opening fire.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "PUMPED UP KICKS")

MARK FOSTER: (Singing) You better run, better run and outrun my gun.

SHAPIRO: While it's easy to find violence in movies and music, video games are even less subtle.

(SOUNDBITE OF VIDEO GAME, "BULLETSTORM")

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Take out Ulysses external guns.

SHAPIRO: That's from the game "Bulletstorm," one of several that the National Rifle Association's Wayne LaPierre called out last month, saying they contribute to a culture of violence.

WAYNE LAPIERRE: And they play murder, portray murder as a way of life, and then they all have the nerve to call it entertainment.

SHAPIRO: This is a rare precinct within the gun debate where the White House and the NRA actually agree. The Obama administration believes the entertainment industry has an important role to play in the conversation about gun violence. But at the start of his meeting with video game executives this afternoon, Vice President Biden said he's not targeting them per se.

VICE PRESIDENT JOSEPH BIDEN: I want you to know you have not been, quote, "singled out for help."

SHAPIRO: David Horowitz is executive director of the Media Coalition. It's a group that advocates for entertainment producers' freedom of speech. He says the government should not be deciding what's acceptable entertainment.

DAVID HOROWITZ: The discretion is left to the consumer to decide what he or she thinks is appropriate for him or herself or, in the case of a parent, for a child.

SHAPIRO: He says stories of violence have been used as entertainment for all of human history. "The Iliad" is one long chronicle of blood and violence. And Horowitz noted...

HOROWITZ: The second story in the Bible is the story of fratricide.

SHAPIRO: The entertainment industry is just one part of the conversation about guns. The White House is looking at legislative and executive options that could help limit gun violence, and Biden said today he's keeping an open mind.

BIDEN: We know there's no single answer, and quite frankly, we don't even know whether some of the things people think impact on this actually impact on it or not.

SHAPIRO: The vice president plans to present a package of gun control recommendations to President Obama on Tuesday. Ari Shapiro, NPR News, the White House.

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