State lawmakers are taking up a bill that would make it a crime to sell or rent a violent video game to a minor or allow a minor to play a violent game in an arcade. The bill has stirred up a hornet’s nest of controversy in the Capitol.
Too many kids are getting their hands on graphically gruesome video games, and some Florida lawmakers say it’s time to make it illegal to sell or rent the games to young people.
Bill sponsor Alex Diaz De La Portilla says playing the games is not the same as watching a violent movie, so there should be tougher restrictions.
“With violent video games, you are an actual participant. You’re actually the one engaging in committing the act, whether it’s decapitation, whether it’s murder, whether it’s maiming, whether it’s raping.”
But similar laws restricting sales have been found been unconstitutional all over the country.
Sen. Evelyn Lynn raised those concerns at this bill’s first committee hearing.
“This is censorship and I cannot vote for anything that even hints of censorship.”
Movie gallery CEO Curry Herring says retailers already voluntarily restrict mature and adult game sales to kids, and work closely with parents.
“Let them make the decision of whether or not that should be allowed in their home.”
Sen. Jim King of Jacksonville was holding no punches.
“They are vulgar, they are ugly.”
King says parents are burying him with complaints, and he thinks Florida should be out front on the issue.
“Why the heck can’t we be the first to say hey, this isn’t right, it isn’t working. We have to make some significant changes. Our kids are too valuable to us.”
We took the debate to Jeb Bush, who says he’s not sure government should be stepping in here.
“I think self-regulation is the first step. Parents ought to take control over their children’s lives.”
Even if the governor gets to sign the bill into law, the courts will probably have the final say.
The bill restricting violent video games passed its first committee hearing 7 to 1. It has three more committees to clear before it can go before the full Senate for a vote during the spring legislative session.