Missouri Lawmaker Proposes Tax on Violent Games

Missouri Representitive Diane Franklin proposed a tax on violent video games to fund mental health services for gamers.

Republican Representative Diane Franklin proposed a tax on violent video games as the effect of such media is scrutinized by lawmakers in the wake of the tragedies at Sandy Hook Elementary over a month ago. 

HB0157I would hit games rated Teen, Mature, and Adult-Only with a 1 percent tax, regardless of violent content. This means that games like Guitar Hero would incur a price hike, even though they do not qualify as violent or detrimental according to Rep. Franklin's definition. Very misleading bill, Ms. Franklin.

Proceeds would fund mental health programs, specifically those treating "conditions associated with exposure to violent video games." Representitive Franklin is connecting her own dots between video games and mental health, despite evidence to the contrary, which is totally irresponsible, especially with how misleading the bill is in the first place.

The ESRB is obviously none too pleased with this proposal:

Taxing First Amendment protected speech based on its content is not only wrong, but will end up costing Missouri taxpayers.

Initiatives to curb violence in video games have fizzled in other states in the past few years; Oklahoma is the latest state to buck an extra gaming tax. 

The most ridiculous part of this proposed legislation is that on one hand, some lawmakers staunchly oppose any measure that even resembles gun control. After all, that's an infringement of Second Amendment rights, yeah? "Guns don't kill people -- people kill people," and the like. Imagine, for a moment, that we were talking about a tax on guns and ammo to fund mental health programs for weapons enthusiasts. Oh, the backlash! 

It is equally ridiculous to suggest, indirectly, that games kill people, and that gamers are at an increased risk for violence. It is equally ridiculous to use "exposure to violent video games" as some sort of mental health benchmark.

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Imayen Etim is a freelance writer and GameSkinny contributor based in Gainesville, Florida. She can be contacted at imayen.e [at] gmail.com

Published Sep. 8th 2017

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