Illinois lawmaker looks to curb carjackings by banning violent video games

(The Center Square) – Citing an increase in carjackings in his district, an Illinois lawmaker wants the state to ban the sale of violent video games, including the popular Grand Theft Auto. 

Sponsored by state Rep. Marcus Evans Jr., D-Chicago, House Bill 3531 would change law restricting the sale or rental of violent video games to minors to prohibit the sale of all violent video games. It would also add the act of carjacking to the description of games that would be banned.

Evans told Cheddar that the point of the bill is to start the conversation about why young Chicagoans are committing these crimes in greater numbers. 

“We have a huge issue here in some cities and some towns with carjackings,” he said. “Thinking about some of the influences of some young people, potentially, I filed this bill as an idea to get us thinking about ways to curb this terrible, terrible deviant behavior of carjacking.”

Evans, who said he grew up playing Grand Theft Auto, has yet to garner any support from his colleagues in the form of co-sponsorships on the bill since it was filed in February. That’s typically a sign that it’s unlikely to move forward.

Grand Theft Auto, the most notable example of carjackings in a video game, hasn’t released a new version of the popular video game franchise since 2013 but still maintains a strong following via online play.

Evan’s district, and others in the Chicago area, have seen a rash of carjackings in recent months. According to Chicago Police, they’d re  ceived more than 350 reports of carjackings in January and February.

Experts on the matter contend that there’s likely little correlation between video games and violent behavior. 

“There’s no good reason to think that any regulation of violence in video games, stopping the sale of games like Grand Theft Auto V to minors, would have any impact whatsoever on carjackings in Chicago or any other form of violent crime,” said Chris Ferguson, a Ph.D. in psychology and professor at Stetson University in Florida.

Stetson is known for his work studying the connection between video games and violent criminal behavior. A 2005 study on internet violence found it’s unlikely to result in real-life violence. 

Should Evan’s legislation be enacted, Ferguson said it’s unlikely to survive a court challenge. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2010 that the state of California’s ban on certain video games represented a violation of the First Amendment. 



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March 15, 2021 at 01:37PM

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