In a trend that simply will not die, another lawmaker has introduced a bill aiming to ban “violent video games.”
Citing a rise in carjackings in the Chicago area, State Rep. Marcus Evans Jr. (D) moved to amend an existing law preventing some video games from being sold to minors. In amending the bill, Evans aims to ban any person from buying video games that depict “motor vehicle theft with a driver or passenger present” or “psychological harm.”
“The bill would prohibit the sale of some of these games that promote the activities that we’re suffering from in our communities,” said Evans in a statement on Sunday.
Evans is joined by Early Walker, who runs the Chicago-based Operation Safe Pump which mobilizes security guards in areas where carjacking happen more frequently.
Walker said, “I feel like this game has become a huge issue in this spectrum,” in reference to the massively successful Grand Theft Auto V. “When you compare the two, you see harsh similarities as it relates to these carjackings.”
Evans’ bill also hopes to redefine the basis for a ‘violent video game’ to include any game in which someone can “control a character within the video game that is encouraged to perpetuate human-on-human violence in which the player kills or otherwise causes serious physical or psychological harm to another human or an animal.”
Walker believes the bill has bipartisan support in the Illinois House and Senate.
Evans and Walker are targeting Grand Theft Auto V, a game which since its release has sold more than 135 million copies. GTA V came out more than seven years ago.
I find it particularly insulting that neither Evans nor Walker base their planned ban on anything more than a “feeling” that the game correlates with violent behavior. Evans’ legislation offers no actual relief from carjackings to Chicago citizens, only a false “feeling” of safety.
The choice to ban video games and not book, magazines, television shows or movies that depict ‘violence’ by Evans’s definition seems odd since Americans, and I expect Chicago citizens, can view carjackings in more than just video games. Children aren’t allowed to see R-rated movies without parent supervision, and children aren’t allowed to buy Mature-rated games at retailers without a parent’s permission. Evans and Walker, however, intend to ban “violent video games” from everyone, not just children. By their rules, it is too dangerous to allow even an adult person to play a video game which features human-on-human violence. By these rules, Nintendo’s Super Smash Brothers would be illegal to sell in Chicago, since two humans characters can fight and kill each other.
If Evans and Walker’s theory were even remotely true, it would mean that the more than 135 million people who have played Grand Theft Auto and the countless, certainly billions, who have played “violent video games” could be compelled to violent crimes. That would include myself, and likely you and your friends. There is no meaningful correlation between people who steal cars in Chicago and people who play Grand Theft Auto V.
While Operation Safe Pump offers legitimate security in neighborhoods who have increased carjackings, banning video game sales for everyone in Chicago offers absolutely no answer to increased crime.