When was the last time you saw a blockbuster film that didn’t include a gun?
It might be hard to remember. Americans love movies that depict violence, a new study shows; 94% of the most popular movies since 1985 contain at least one violent scene, and half of those involve a gun.
For the study, published this week in the scientific journal Pediatrics, researchers analyzed the 30 top
-grossing films every year from 1950 to 2012. They identified violent sequences in each movie and noted whether the scenes included a character carrying a gun with the intention of harming or killing a living target.
Since 1950, violence in films has more than doubled, the study authors concluded. Perhaps more surprising is that gun violence in PG-13 films has tripled since 1985, even exceeding the amount found in R-rated films in more recent years.
“Parents need to realize that just because a movie has been rated PG-13 does not mean that their 13-year-old should go to see it,” study author Daniel Romer said. “We would like to see Hollywood go back to labeling movies with lots of violence, and gun violence in particular, with an R rating, just like they have been doing for explicit sex all along.”
The average American sees seven movies in theaters every year, according to Nielsen’s 2012 American Moviegoing Report. Those rated PG-13 are often the highest-grossing, bringing in about 45% of the market share.
The Motion Picture Association of America first began using the PG-13 rating in 1985. The rating urges parents to be cautious, saying “some material may be inappropriate for pre-teenagers,” but theaters do not check IDs for those seeing a PG-13 movie. And some worry that exposing children to violence on the screen may encourage them to act it out in real life.
Read more: CNN