The violent games legislation introduced in Utah passed the House of Representatives Thursday by a vote of 56-8, according to the Desert News and the Salt Lake Tribune. The bill aims to group violent videogames with other controlled media, such as pornography, into the pre-existing Harmful Materials to Minors Act. Some House members criticized the move, saying that lumping violence together with pornography could be a constitutional problem. Pornography is not constitutionally protected speech, while violence is.
This action would make it a third degree felony to provide an M-rated game to a minor. It would punish both the retailer and the consumer. Of the eight who voted against the bill, one representative expressed doubt over the possibility of sending a parent to jail for buying a game.
Examples of other felonies in the third degree in the state of Utah are "exploiting prostitution" (simply patronizing or being a prostitute is a misdemeanor) and reckless drunk driving.
The bill defines its own standards for unacceptable videogames, disregarding the ESRB rating system that was designed to help retailers and parents make choices for their children. Instead the bill targets videogames that are "patently offensive to prevailing standards in the adult community" without "literary, artistic, political or scientific value for minors."
Similar laws restricting violent videogames passed in California, Michigan, and Illinois recently have all been challeneged in court and declared unconstitutional by judges.