Alarming Carjacking Surge in Chicago Blamed on Dangerous Video Games, Sales Ban Proposed
So, apparently, violence in Chicago is on the rise, which is not anywhere close to breaking news. Despite the fact that everyone in Illinois knows Chicago has a crime problem., lawmakers are scratching their heads trying to figure out what to do about it. One thing they've noticed is that carjackings are up, and they've pointed their fingers at violent video games as a possible culprit.
Representative Marcus Evans Jr. has proposed banning the sale of violent video games to minors. Specifically, he's singling out the Grand Theft Auto franchise, which allows players to commit carjackings and other crimes.
Grand Theft Auto Has Been Around For Decades
Video games like GTA have been around for years, and it's not like they just suddenly started causing carjackings. Sure, some of the carjacking suspects are young, but a study in 2019 shows there's no clear link between violent video games and violent behavior.
It's difficult to link it directly to the rise in carjackings in Chicago. Lawmakers and city officials have pointed out that some of the carjacking suspects are young, and have suggested that the pandemic-induced increase in video game playing may be a contributing factor.
I'm not an expert on this but it's a safe bet banning video games isn't going to cut down crime. It's a knee-jerk reaction instead of focusing on addressing the root causes of violence in Illinois and coming up with evidence-based solutions.
Crime: The Bigger Picture
Carjackings are just one piece of a larger puzzle of violence in Chicago and in Illinois. Poverty, inequality, lack of education, and job opportunities are the real causes of violence. Banning video games isn't going to solve all the problems.
Here's the proposed bill (HB3531):
Amends the Violent Video Games Law in the Criminal Code of 2012. Changes provisions that restricts the sale or rental of violent video games to minors to prohibit the sale of all violent video games. Modifies the definition of "violent video game" to mean a video game that allows a user or player to 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. Modifies the definition of "serious physical harm" to include psychological harm and child abuse, sexual abuse, animal abuse, domestic violence, violence against women, or motor vehicle theft with a driver or passenger present inside the vehicle when the theft begins. Makes conforming changes, including repealing a Section concerning the labeling of violent video games by video game retailers.
Banning the sale of violent video games to minors might seem like an easy fix, but it's not. The first step is to focus on real solutions to the problem of violence in Chicago, Illinois, and the entire country.