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.
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.