Gun violence in teen films still rising, study shows

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In the climactic battle scene in “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story,” basically everyone has a gun: the rebels dodging enemy blaster beams along the sand, the storm troopers emerging from the water in their shiny white armor, the long-legged armored walkers knocking down palm trees.

Not a single light saber can be found.

Director Gareth Edwards has explained his weapon choices by saying that the events take place before the understanding of the Force in the story’s universe.

But the omnipresence of guns in the latest “Star Wars” film also reflects a trend in Hollywood during the past 30 years toward increasing gun violence in superhero/fantasy/comic book-type action flicks aimed at children and teenagers — a shift that has created confusion about what differentiates a PG-13 movie such as “Rogue One” from an R-rated film.

Think characters such as Batman, the Avengers, X-Men and Transformers.

In fact, according to a new analysis, the amount of gun violence in the 30 top-grossing PG-13 movies exceeds the gun violence in the top R-rated flicks and continues to rise.

The study, published last week in the journal Pediatrics, updates research that was released in 2013 and showed that the prevalence of gun violence in top PG-13 movies had more than tripled since the rating was introduced in the mid-1980s.

The new analysis, according to study author Dan Romer, research director of the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania, suggests that “Hollywood continues to rely on gun violence as a prominent feature in its highly popular PG-13 action-oriented films.”

Romer’s research is important because, even though the link between watching violence and real-world…