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Ban sale of Grand Theft Auto, other violent video games, state rep says

With carjackings rising, Rep. Marcus Evans wants to prohibit the sale of violent video games promoting criminal activity. Also Monday, Operation Safe Pump announced its gas station guards program will expand to south suburban Olympia Fields.

The computer action game Grand Theft Auto IV on sale at a Best Buy store in West Hollywood, Calif.
Sales of Grand Theft Auto, which critics say promotes carjacking, would be banned in Illinois along with other violent video games, under a bill introduced by state Rep. Marcus Evans.
Associated Press file photo

With carjackings on the rise in Chicago and elsewhere, a South Side Democratic state representative has introduced a bill that would ban the sale of Grand Theft Auto and other violent video games.

Rep. Marcus Evans Jr. wants to amend a 2012 law preventing some video games from being sold to minors. Friday, he filed HB3531, which would amend that law to ban the sale to anyone of video games depicting “psychological harm,” including “motor vehicle theft with a driver or passenger present.”

Evans had been contacted in January by Early Walker, who started Operation Safe Pump to prevent carjackings at gas stations and shopping centers. Safe Pump positions security guards from the Kates Detective and Security Agency in areas with high numbers of carjackings.

“The bill would prohibit the sale of some of these games that promote the activities that we’re suffering from in our communities.” Evans said.

Walker said he reached out to several state legislators to ban the video game after noticing similarities in local incidents of carjackings and actions players can make in the video game.

“I feel like this game has become a huge issue in this spectrum,” Walker said. “When you compare the two, you see harsh similarities as it relates to these carjackings.”

Early Walker speaks to the media in September 2020.
Early Walker wants state legislators to ban the sale of the video game Grand Theft Auto in an effort to curb carjackings. Walker has started Operation Safe Pump to place extra security at gasoline stations in areas with high numbers of carjackings.
Pat Nabong/Sun-Times file

Besides addressing carjacking, the bill also changes the definition of a “violent video game” to one in which players “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.”

CPD officers responded to 218 carjackings in January, police said. Walker believes there is bipartisan support in Springfield to ban sales of the game in Illinois.

Also on Monday, Walker and Olympia Fields trustee Desiree Watkins announced Operation Safe Pump would expand to the south Chicago suburb.

Watkins said carjackings have increased in Olympia Fields since October. From 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. daily, Safe Pump guards will be at the Speedway gas station at Crawford Avenue and Vollmer Road, Walker said.

Olympia Fields has a “significant population of women and seniors,” who have been targeted in recent carjackings, according to Safe Pump.

Watkins said she contacted Walker after a retired police officer in Olympia Fields was carjacked at gunpoint in their driveway.

“I am glad that Walker is bringing something to us to keep us safe,” Watkins said. “Operation Safe Pump is welcome here.”