A Democratic state representative in Illinois is looking to ban violent video games, such as Grand Theft Auto, believing them to be responsible for a rise in carjackings and other violent crime in Chicago and the rest of the state.
Rep. Marcus Evans Jr. has introduced an amendment to bill HB3531, seeking to prohibit the sale of all violent video games throughout the state.
The effort faces many challenges, however. In 2011, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a less restrictive California law, which sought to restrict the sale of violent video games to children. The 7-2 ruling in that case made it clear that First Amendment protections outweighed the concerns of lawmakers.
“A legislature cannot create new categories of unprotected speech simply by weighing the value of a particular category against its social costs and then punishing it if it fails the test,” the court said in its ruling.
“Reading Dante is unquestionably more cultured and intellectually edifying than playing Mortal Kombat,” it later added. “But these cultural and intellectual differences are not constitutional ones. Crudely violent video games, tawdry TV shows, and cheap novels and magazines are no less forms of speech than The Divine Comedy, and restrictions upon them must survive strict scrutiny.”
Evans’s proposal comes after Chicago police responded to 218 carjackings last month. He tells the Chicago Sun-Times that he believes there is bipartisan support for the bill in the state legislature.
The amendment also seeks to redefine “violent” as video games depicting “psychological harm,” including “motor vehicle theft with a driver or passenger present.”
The bill would levy fines of $1,000 per offense to any person who sells or rents a “violent video game.”