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Illinois set to pull plug on sales of violent video games to kids

By The Associated Press
05.31.05

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — Illinois House members have voted to ban the sale of violent or sexually explicit video games to minors in Illinois, a move other states and cities have tried but federal courts have repeatedly struck down.

The measure now goes to Democratic Gov. Rod Blagojevich, who proposed the ban late last year after hearing about the video game "JFK Reloaded," which puts the player in the role of President Kennedy's assassin.

"In today's world, parents face unprecedented challenges in monitoring and protecting their children from harmful influences. This bill will make their job easier," Blagojevich said, praising the House's 106-6 vote on May 29. The state Senate approved the bill, H.B. 4023, earlier this month.

Under the legislation, clerks who knowingly sell adult video games to minors could be fined $1,000. They could defend themselves by showing they did not know the buyer was a minor or that they followed the industry ratings on the games.

The legislation leaves it to stores to determine which games are too violent or sexually explicit for minors, and retailers have argued it turns them into violence and sensitivity police.

A federal judge last summer struck down a Washington state ban as a violation of free speech because it prohibited selling to minors video games depicting violence against police officers but not other depictions of violence. Federal courts have also struck down bans in Indianapolis and St. Louis County, Mo., saying the measures encroach on the First Amendment.

The judge in Washington state also determined the ban was too broad because it was unclear which games would be banned — something Illinois lawmakers say could be a problem with the legislation now headed to Blagojevich's desk.

"What we have is all we ever get — all fluff and no stuff," Republican Rep. Bill Black said.

But supporters insist the government has a duty to help parents shield children from violence and sexuality. "Don't let them become the monsters that we see in these violent games," said state Democratic Rep. Monique Davis.


Update
Illinois video-game restriction signed into law
Beginning Jan. 1, law bars sale, rental to minors of games featuring extreme violence, sex; labeling also required. 07.26.05

Previous
Illinois Senate OKs limits on sales of violent video games
Some lawmakers argue measure is unconstitutional, but say they wouldn't vote against it for fear vote would be used against them politically. 05.20.05

Related

Legislators, activists take aim at violent video games

Citing research linking games to real violence, critics want some titles off-limits to kids — though courts have tended to provide First Amendment protection. 07.06.04

Sen. Clinton seeks 'Grand Theft Auto' probe
New York Democrat wants FTC to investigate how players can obtain graphic porn, violence through the game. 07.15.05

A more mature approach to video-game violence
By Paul K. McMasters Those wishing to regulate games face major hurdles, starting with the Constitution. 02.20.05

Violence & media

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