Legislators in Illinois voted Saturday to institute a ban on the sale of violent and sexually explicit video and computer games to minors. The House voted 106-6 in favor of the bill, and sends it to the state’s Democratic governor. Gov. Rod Blagojevich, who initially proposed the measure, is expected to sign it into law.
Similiar legislation passed in Washington state, Indiana and Missouri has been struck down by federal courts, who have considered those bans to violate the terms of the First Amendment.
Although the bill’s viability in the face of First Amendment opposition raised fierce debate on the House floor, those problems seemed of little consequence to some of the Illinois lawmakers who support the measure. “… if it goes to court, it goes to court. We’ve done what we were supposed to do,” said Rep. Monique Davis (D-Chicago), as reported by
The Chicago Tribune .
The Illinois measure, known as
HB4023, would fine retailers $1,000 if they knowingly sell adult video games to anyone under the age of 18. The legislation lets the retailers themselves determine what games are too violent or sexually graphic for minors to play, though many expect the retailers to follow the ratings system instituted by the Electronic Software Ratings Board (ESRB).
The ESRB rates most of the video games sold in the United States, and applies ratings that include E for Everyone, T for Teen and M for Mature. Five of the top 20 selling video games for 2004 were M-rated, including Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas and Halo 2. Likewise, five of the top 20 selling computer games for 2004 were M-rated, including Doom 3 and Half-Life 2 — although the best-selling computer game of the year was The Sims 2, which is T-rated.
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