Violent games blamed for German school attack

After armed 18-year-old storms school, lawmakers urge ban on violent computer games, simulated war games.

Leading German lawmakers demanded a crackdown on violent computer and simulated war games on Tuesday over concerns that they may have helped inspire a young man to attack his former school with guns and explosives.

The masked 18-year-old man stormed the Scholl secondary school on Monday in the western German town of Emsdetten, wounding as many as 27 people before committing suicide.

The young man, identified only as Bastian B., was known to authorities and due in court on Tuesday for weapons violations, local police said. According to German media reports, he had a fondness for war simulation and computer games.

Wolfgang Bosbach, the deputy head of Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU) in parliament, said it was time to consider banning games that simulate wanton killing.

"We need effective guidelines to protect children from exposure to different types of media, but we don't need (simulated) killer games that can lead to brutalization," Bosbach was quoted on the Netzeitung news Web site as saying.

Bosbach added that scientific studies have shown violent games have disturbing effects on some children.

Christa Stewens, family minister for the conservative-led state of Bavaria, called for a nationwide ban on war games like paintball and laser tag, in which players hunt down and pretend to kill each other with guns firing paint balls or laser beams.

"The federal government must finally ban (simulated) killer games... Bavaria has had such a ban in place since 2002," Stewens said in a statement.

She added that children should also be prevented from playing violent computer games.

The federal government has so far refused to ban such games.

The opposition Greens warned against banning violent computer and war games.

Volker Beck, a leading Greens member of parliament, said it would be better to focus the debate on the proper use of computers and not jump to conclusions before it was clear what motivated Bastian B.

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