Lawmaker wants to keep minors from buying violent games

Assemblyman Leland Yee (D-San Francisco) plans to introduce legislation this week that would keep minors from purchasing first shooter videogames, where players need to kill in order to advance.

"These first person shooter videogames really teach kids how to stalk and how to maim and torture and kill people," Yee said. "That's not what we should be doing for our kids."

The bill would penalize retailers and other stores that sell the games to anyone under the age of 17. A second bill would require video game retailers to separate children's games from adult games.

"It classifies these first person shooter violent videogames as having a harmful effect, just as pornography, alcohol and cigarettes have harmful effects towards our children," said Yee. "There are penalties then exacted for those individuals who sell these products to minors."

Several medical and psychological groups believe these games can make children more aggressive. But any legislation limiting sale of these games will most likely face legal challenges. Lee Tien with the San Francisco-based Electronic Frontier Foundation, a civil liberties group primarily concerned with the Internet, said similar laws have been declared unconstitutional because of free speech issues.

"If what you're trying to accomplish is to have kids not buy games because of content, that's basically something the government is not permitted to do," said Tien.

"This is like a lot of things that people may feel are bad in society or in some way harmful," he said. "But the answer isn't to ban the speech. The answer is to try to get people to make different decisions."

Tien told KCBS there is actually very little empirical evidence linking violent videogames to aggressive behavior.

This would be the first time such a bill has been introduced in California. Several children's, law enforcement groups and other groups support the bill.

News source: KBCS

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