Wolf releases report on mass shootings

Feb. 14, 2013 at 4:48 PM
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WASHINGTON, Feb. 14 (UPI) -- The National Science Foundation says the three major risk factors for mass shootings are exposure to violent media, mental health and access to guns.

The 41-page NSF report, titled "Youth Violence: What We Need To Know," was released Thursday by U.S. Rep. Frank Wolf, R-Va., and will be discussed by the House Appropriations Commerce-Justice-Science subcommittee later this spring, Wolf said in a release.

Wolf requested the report following the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.

The report drew on "reliable evidence and a stable of theories to explain youth violence that have emerged from decades of research, including research supported by the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, the National Research Council and other federal agencies."

One study the report cited suggested there may be a link between mental health issues and the consumption of violent media, which includes video games.

"We have found that depressed and hopeless youth migrate toward gaming and Internet activity in general," the author wrote. "There is already some suggestive evidence that online violent gaming is associated with cyberbullying. This may increase the exchange of rejecting messages, thereby further exacerbating hostile feelings among suicidal youth."

Wolf said he had hoped President Barack Obama would have addressed the causes of mass shootings during Tuesday's State of the Union Address, but was disappointed when he only discussed gun control.

"To only focus on one piece of a large and complicated puzzle is irresponsible," Wolf said.

"While I recognize the potential constitutional issues involved in tackling media violence, mental health parity and gun control, I am disappointed that mental health issues and media violence were left out of the president's address," Wolf said.

"The president said that the victims of mass shootings, including Congresswoman Gabby Giffords, the college students at Virginia Tech, the children at Sandy Hook, the high school students at Columbine, and the movie-goers in Aurora all deserve a vote for gun control proposals. How can he in good conscience call for that, but not acknowledge the fact that each one of the shooters in those events was mentally disturbed? How could he not acknowledge the role that violent media played in some of their lives?

"The president has failed the American people and the families of the victims by remaining frustratingly silent on these crucial issues and ignoring the other central factors related to mass violence of this kind."

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