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‘Grand Theft Auto’ ban proposed by Chicago lawmaker as carjackings soar

February 23rd, 2021 at 8:24 PM
Chicago carjackings
  • Chicago carjackings are soaring right now, as are other types of violent crime in the city, which has led one Illinois lawmaker to call for a dramatic response.
  • That response is a bill that would ban the sale of violent video games, like those in the Grand Theft Auto franchise.
  • Carjackings in Chicago were up 135% last year, according to police.

Because of a surge in violent crimes like carjackings in Chicago, one state lawmaker from the city has introduced a bill targeting what he sees as a possible catalyst for the nefarious activity — violent video games, like those in the popular Grand Theft Auto franchise.

Rep. Marcus Evans Jr., from Chicago’s South Side, has called for the banning of sales of video games that showcase, among other things, “motor vehicle theft with a driver or passenger present.” This comes as a recent local TV news report from Chicago revealed that some carjacking suspects are not even old enough to drive, and it quoted a local philanthropist as speculating that GTA and video games like it might influence young people to do bad things.

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It’s funny how this works, isn’t it? It’s always one side of this video game impact question that gets analyzed. When Animal Crossing: New Horizons was one of the biggest things in all of pop culture last year, for example, no one talked about any kind of corresponding increase in crafting or DIY projects or that kind of thing — it’s always one element of this issue that people want to draw the same conclusion about.

At any rate, the crime problem, at least, is very real in Chicago, with police saying that carjackings were up about 135% there last year, to 1,415. That’s according to Fox News, which said that last month a 14-year-old boy was arrested for involvement in multiple carjackings — including one that involved an off-duty cop.

Police say that the youngest carjacker arrested during the recent spate of carjackings was 12 years old.

The new law proposed in the wake of all this is actually an amendment to an existing statute in Illinois’s criminal code. Already, retailers are restricted against selling violent video games to minors. Evans’ proposal would just extend that, banning the sale of violent video games to everyone.

And it’s not just the motor theft-related violence, as noted above. This bill would prohibit the sale of any video game that depicts “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.”

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Andy is a reporter in Memphis who also contributes to outlets like Fast Company and The Guardian. When he’s not writing about technology, he can be found hunched protectively over his burgeoning collection of vinyl, as well as nursing his Whovianism and bingeing on a variety of TV shows you probably don’t like.

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