It's been a while since anyone tried banning Grand Theft Auto, since the prior attempts never bore any fruit in the countless times it has been tried in the past. But, now, one State Representative in Illinois thinks they'll be the one who can finally get it done. Rep. Marcus Evans is seeking to restrict the sale of violent video games in a bid to curb a spike in carjackings.
Illinois has seen a sharp increase in carjackings and other violent crime, mainly centered around the city of Chicago, with CPD officers responding to 218 instances in January alone. The idea to restrict violent video game sales, primarily GTA titles, came when Rep. Evans was contacted by Early Walker, the man behind Operation Safe Pump.
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Safe Pump was an initiative to reduce carjackings that took place at gas stations, where many such crimes of opportunity took place. Operation Safe Pump sought to further secure gas stations by putting additional security out where the pumps themselves are. Now, they are seeking to amend a 2012 law in order to ban certain violent video games, which they consider part of the problem. Of course, this is despite decades worth of studies which prove otherwise.
Bill HB3531, filed last Friday, aims to prevent the sales of certain games, either to minors or anyone altogether, based on arbitrary characteristics such as depicting “psychological harm,” including “motor vehicle theft with a driver or passenger present.”
Walker has contacted several lawmakers recently, lobbying for the ban of GTA and other violent video games, in spite of a historic track record of such attempts never amounting to much - with good reason. Aside of there being plenty of academia debunking the myth that violent video games cause violence, regulating their sales is difficult from a legal sense as well.
“I feel like this game has become a huge issue in this spectrum,” Walker said. “When you compare the two, you see harsh similarities as it relates to these carjackings.”
The bill also has further reaching implications, as it seems to change what the legal definition of "violent video games" is. Should the bill pass, the new official definition will be summarized as a game where players “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.”
While the bill would likely only affect the state of Illinois, it being passed would set a precedent that might be followed elsewhere. That said, we don't see too much chance for this. Back when we ran our "GTA 6 City of the Week" series, Chicago scored pretty high as a potential setting for the next game, even though leaks since then indicate a return to Vice City.