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Indiana House passes bill limiting youth access to violent video games

By The Associated Press

03.07.01

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INDIANAPOLIS — The Indiana House yesterday overwhelmingly approved legislation designed to curb youth access to violent video arcade games, an issue already facing a court challenge.

The legislation, passed by a vote of 90-6, would require minors to be accompanied by parents, guardians or custodians while operating an amusement machine deemed harmful to minors.

Under the bill, the machines include video games or electronic game or amusement devices that require currency, tokens, cards or tickets to operate.

Harmful is defined as strong sexual content or graphic violence, including visual depictions of bloodshed or human figures being mutilated, maimed or disfigured.

The city of Indianapolis enacted an ordinance with similar provisions last year. The amusement and coin-operated game industry sued, and the case is still pending.

Rep. Vanessa Summers, D-Indianapolis, said she purposefully put a 2003 effective date on her bill so court proceedings in the Indianapolis case could play out before a state law would take effect.

She said studies have shown a connection between violent video games and youth violence.

"If you never put anything else into their viewing system, you are going to get out of them what you put in," she said.

Rep. Dennis Kruse, R-Auburn, said some video games were teaching youths to be trained killers.

"I think it's as bad as drugs, tobacco and alcohol, and we control all of those," he said.

But Rep. Bruce Munson, R-Muncie, warned lawmakers the measure could be unconstitutional.

"I think we are on thin First Amendment ice with this bill, and I urge caution," he said.

The bill now goes to the Senate, where its fate is uncertain.

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