CT legislator calls on industry to end gun licensing deals

Connecticut Speaker of the House Brendan Sharkey asks leaders from Activision, Take-Two, Valve, and the ESA to end "nefarious" deals with arms manufacturers.

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Connecticut Speaker of the House Brendan Sharkey (D-Hamden) has written a letter to industry leaders urging them to no longer use their games to promote guns.

Image credit: Michael McAndrews, Hartford Courant

The letter is addressed to Take-Two CEO Strauss Zelnick, Activision Blizzard CEO Robert Kotick, Valve Corporation head Gabe Newell, and Entertainment Software Association CEO Michael Gallagher.

In the letter, Sharkey calls on the industry leaders to end all licensing and product placement agreements with gun makers. He called these deals "nefarious" and possibly a contributing factor to December's schoolhouse massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, where 20 children and six adults were killed.

"The industry practice of video game publishers entering into licensing, marketing, or other financial arrangements to feature real guns in their games blurs the lines between fiction and reality in ways that can have tragic consequences," Sharkey wrote.

Sharkey said Connecticut families know this "all too well." He pointed out that the Sandy Hook shooter was reportedly an active Call of Duty player, who used a rifle manufactured by Bushmaster to conduct his act of mass violence on December 14.

Bushmaster weapons are featured in various Call of Duty games.

"We have to take steps to institute meaningful change in the way we portray, and effectively market, assault weapons to children and young adults," Sharkey said. "Games designed to recreate the experience of wartime carnage and criminal violence constitute protected speech under the provisions of the First Amendment. But there is little to be said in defense of an industry-wide practice of arranging licensing deals with gun manufacturers for the rights to use the make, model, and visual design specifications of their real-life weapons."

Sharkey noted that Electronic Arts already announced it would end gun licensing deals and urged other companies to follow suit and end their "reckless" deals with arms manufacturers.

"I write to you today to request your cooperation in ending the nefarious relationship between video game makers and gun makers," Sharkey said. "I ask that you commit to not engaging in future licensing, marketing, and financial arrangements with gun manufacturers."

Representatives for Take-Two, Activision Blizzard, Valve, and the ESA were not immediately available to comment.

Discussion

511 comments
VR_Verdugo
VR_Verdugo

We've got police departments going around looking like army infantrymen with assault rifles (including Bushmaster AR-15s) and armored vehicles but I'm sure licensing deals in video games are a more pressing matter...

JBStone1981
JBStone1981

So was his mom a Call of Duty player? Because the Bushmaster gun belonged to her, not him. So instead of treating this like the tragic coincidence that it is, we'll just blame games. 

The gaming industry should tell legislators that they'll stop entering nefarious deals with arms manufacturers as soon as the federal government does.

BlackSquare
BlackSquare

If a  crazy person runs down a two dozen people do you ban all cars?

BlackSquare
BlackSquare

Party politics aside for a second. Everyone that complains on this article and votes, most likely voted for someone like him. If you are going to vote down party lines, at least vote for a different kind of candidate. Most people complain about politicians like him but then go and cheer them on. Don't believe me? Go see the kind of candidates most of you follow on twitter (if you do). All these anti-gun, anti-gaming, anti-free speech politicians. Including your beloved Obama. Plenty of stupid Republicans too but at least they have Ron Paul and Rand Paul who won't stand for idiots like Brendan Sharkey.

goggles123456
goggles123456

This is an example of why our government is the pits right now.  It's being run by immature, and insecure people without a trace of sense.  In order to lead the people, leave them alone.  We don't want to be monitored by our representatives.  We should be monitoring them.  The relationship is backwards, right now.  :/

René Giber
René Giber

Yep, lets target games and not the actual problem.... lol

DeadGothicRed
DeadGothicRed

F*** Off, nothing wrong with guns being licensed in game.

Anthony Bentley
Anthony Bentley

Look at Hollywood if you want to start pointing fingers.

Nevsek
Nevsek

IF video games contribute to violently deranged acts in any significant way, and IF the cause of that is related to a "blurring" of reality, this could be a bad move.  FPS developers are going to continue to put the same weapons into their games, but they just wouldn't be able to use the real names for them.  It could be equally argued that by giving virtual weapons fun fake names, it further displaces one from the reality of violence and guns.  They become even more "magical" an item that people anthropomorphize and demonize (or celebrate) rather than understanding the function of a real world tool.

MaverickHunter8
MaverickHunter8

And so the insanity continues, what will ending gun-licensing in games really do nothing in my honest opinion. Even if that happens there are other ways to look up info on guns.

thekingofirony
thekingofirony

The State of CT has bigger problems.like who to call when your cable goes out.

Seifer24
Seifer24

So a politician talks about guns in a virtual world aka games.

At least we use guns for gaming and not for killing you stupid piece of garbage

Wraith3
Wraith3

Dude, STFU for all of our sakes. You do realize these games are made for 18+? Are you saying, for example, that a WW2 game should replace historically accurate real guns, with what, laser guns? I'm sure you're making the same demand of TV and movies correct?

bomber1992
bomber1992

Huh, must be coming up on an election year.

FrankFoxYaeger
FrankFoxYaeger

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

Zloth2
Zloth2

Product placement?  Sheesh, I was wondering what the "Bushmaster" gun was doing in Far Cry 3 with over-the-top stats.  Did somebody pay them to put it there?

Wawas20
Wawas20

never knew bushmaster was in cod

toddx77
toddx77

Hey Mr Speaker, you and all of the politicians contributed to the horrible state of our economy so by that logic shouldn't all of you retire?  

surferosh
surferosh

why are they targeting the games companies ?

what about movies, music videos, tv shows, etc ?  are they going to send them letters too?

d3nR
d3nR

If I was a psychotic mass murderer (and I might be) I wouldn't care what gun I would use to go on a spree. I certainly wouldn't use COD as a catalougue to choose a gun from.

Nick Dawson
Nick Dawson

The fact that none of you even know why the second amendment exist is laughable. A defense against government, if the population has no way to defend itself against a government then it is easy to trample any rights that they want.

RoyialNetwork
RoyialNetwork

You can call it something else or pretend its not a real life gun. A gun still functions like a gun. The logic they have is astounding.

Yomigaeru
Yomigaeru

Nefarious...as in "The Nefarious Professor Ratigan"?!

Taffy872
Taffy872

The Sandy Hook shooter played Call of Duty? Call of Duty has guns.  Wait did he watch movies? Did the movies have guns? Did he listen to music? Did the music have negative influences such as profanity and large amount of vulgar words? Did music influence the shooting then? Let's just remove all forms of creativity and all forms of art and media because it will all have negative influences on us. Wait but people around us can be vulgar too. Well let's all live in seclusion then. Wait our environment could be a hazard to us. I could accidentally trip and fall on my laptop and get a deadly wound. I have cooking knifes that could fall off and stab my feet. Life is unsafe and a danger to ourselves and others. The main thing that I am trying to point out is that anything could be a possible reason for a negative event, and we should not go poking around and blaming things for these negative events.

John McCrea
John McCrea

^ He was quite obviously exaggerating to make a point. Get real.

Wattsburg0
Wattsburg0

I would call Sharkey a tool but that would mean he was good for something.

Baelath
Baelath

It is a little disturbing how the makers of big FPS military games have licensing deals with arms manufacturers, you gotta admit. 

sadface1234
sadface1234

While I understands it is apples to oranges, I still say it is slightly hypocritical given that 20% of the US budget goes to "defense department" aka shit ton of guns.

Here is an idea why don't you go after the NRA, who actually promote gun use. oh thats right you are scared of the political backlash and not getting reelected because of it.  How you let a organization that consists of only 1.6% of the population influences hot political decision sis beyond me.. dam forgot about that thing called money

greenpolyp
greenpolyp

Let also end licensing deals with Auto makers because people kill people everyday with Cars. I dont understand why Politicians are so stupid.

Nathan Simpson
Nathan Simpson

People saying psychos 'will kill people even of they don't have a gun'... true. But the potential of killings is severly reduced... someone tell me how many recent mass murdsrs have been carried out without a gun??? Arguement is invalid dicks.

Tzardok
Tzardok

Ok, I can support this if the same is done for movies and books (you can no longer say the gun's model or name but can describe it).

BAH, what a joke. I can almost see Gabe reading his letter, LOL a lot and then seriously /respectfully ignore it.

greeneye59
greeneye59

Ironic that a politician who makes deals for favors that benefit himself and increases his wealth, is now calling for the gaming industry to stop doing that.  Oh that is rich.  The gaming industry is only interested in money.  If putting a badass gun in a shooter makes the game more marketable then they'll make the deal.   Suck it Sharkey!

edinko
edinko

"Sharkey noted that Electronic Arts already announced it would end gun licensing deals and urged other companies to follow suit and end their "reckless" deals with arms manufacturers. "

Yeah but EA didn't do it for the reasons they wish. They did it so they can use gun models for free and not pay for the licenses .Just another money leeching practice

thanxforplayin
thanxforplayin

A fuckn gun in a video game is a gun, the crazy wacko psychopath will do the same thing regaurdless, pretty sure changing the name of the gun on the video game is not going to change them 

Daimonick
Daimonick

How can someone with such an overly large upper dome...Have so little in between the ears?

JBStone1981
JBStone1981

@BlackSquare I agree with your sentiment, but Ron Paul and Rand Paul are morons, and you shouldn't invoke them to make your point.

emperiox
emperiox

@Wawas20 the ACR is a bushmaster rifle. It stands for "Adaptive Combat Rifle".

Boogy32
Boogy32

@surferosh Also. Movies aren't making you actively choose to shoot someone in the face. Games would be the only media that lets you do that.
There has been speculations that when you steal cars, and beat up civilians on the streets in GTA, or when you exploit the digitalised "tits on asses" in Mass Effect, you are more likely to commit these acts in reality.
I suppose I can see where their concerns are coming from, but if you look at world history, then it seems to me that all cultures would have had bloodsport for the masses. Some scholars and statesmen of ancient Rome were opposed to the gladiatorial games, but back then they would never dream of banning it, because it was what made the plebeians happy.

Ducez_III
Ducez_III

@surferosh Other forms of media have been targeted in the past, but they're old news. Newer forms of media like video games are easier targets because older generations don't understand them as much.

BlackSquare
BlackSquare

@Nick Dawson Not just that. Crazy people and criminals get access to guns all the time. I can't dodge a bullet, So we need to be able to defend ourselves. I know some types of body armor can't be bought easily. Including in his beloved state of CT.

d3nR
d3nR

@Taffy872 I have this rock that magically repels any harm to your body. I will sell this to you.

KAINITEX
KAINITEX

@Baelath not really how else are you to get permission to use their likeness movies and tv shows need them as well just like any product to use them in games movies etc you need licencing deals

BlackSquare
BlackSquare

@sadface1234 The US has more guns than people. The NRA represents the view of hundreds of millions of Americans. When a few hundred people protest, they are also voicing the opinion of those that aren't protesting but share a similar view. Ever heard of the silent majority?

On your 20% point. Politicians think only gov't should be able to do anything. Once a individuals does it, it must be for bad reasons.

BlackSquare
BlackSquare

@greenpolyp True. You would be surprised how many people die from car crashes versus guns, especially car crashes versus legal guns.

BlackSquare
BlackSquare

@Nathan Simpson Boston bombing. Oklahoma city bombing. 9/11. And so on. Didn't some guy just ran over nearly a dozen people with his car, on purpose the other day. Crazy people will simply start to use explosives. Yes we need to limit crazy people's access to guns But doesn't mean everyone else shouldn't have them. Or I guess we have to ban pressure cookers now.

BlackSquare
BlackSquare

@edinko Funny thing is GTA and most of these "violent" games don't license them. Wasn't GTA the game with those fake names for real life cars and guns for a long time?

edinko
edinko

@BlackSquare @edinko GTA is mpt an EA game. SOme game licensed them and now they want just to use them without paying. There is nothing surprising here. Its another thing they want to exploit for more money