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.