Video game violence is facing a second wave of attack from the Legislature.
On Wednesday, Rep. David Hogue will revive a bill that seeks to prevent minors from accessing violent video games.
Hogue's effort comes less than a week after a Canadian man who liked to play an Internet role game about the Columbine High School shootings in Colorado opened fire on Montreal college students, killing a young woman and injuring 19 before taking his own life.
Violent video games are coming under increasing attack nationwide with about a dozen states limiting the sale or rental of sexually explicit or violent games to minors.
Hogue will reintroduce a bill that won approval from the House 56-8 in the legislative session that ended March 1 before the Senate could hear the bill.
Similar bills classifying violent games as material inappropriate for minors, such as pornography, were signed into law in Louisiana and Oklahoma in June.
"I have a lot of confidence in that this bill will pass," said Hogue, R-Riverton.
But whether it will stand up to a court challenge is another question.
Judges in several states, including Minnesota, Illinois, California and Louisiana, have blocked similar laws on grounds that there's little evidence violent video games are harmful to children and the statutes restrict First Amendment rights.
In July, U.S. District Judge James Rosenbaum issued a permanent injunction to halt the implementation of a Minnesota law that would have penalized minors for purchasing adult-themed games.
"There is no showing whatsoever that video games, in the absence of other violent media, cause even the slightest injury to children," U.S. District Judge James Rosenbaum wrote.
Hogue expects the video game industry to sue should his bill pass. But he thinks his bill will stand up in court.
"What the other states have had a problem with was actually trying to keep the sale of those things off the shelf completely," he said. "We've identified these materials as being harmful to minors. I think it can be proved in court."
In April, U.S. District Judge George Steeh issued a permanent injunction against a Michigan law that closely mirrors the intent of Hogue's bill. It would have banned violent video game sales to minors.
In that case the state argued that video games are more harmful than television because the player controls the action.
"It could just as easily be said that the interactive element in video games acts as an outlet for minors to vent their violent or aggressive behavior, thereby diminishing the chance they would actually perform such acts in reality," Steeh wrote.
But Hogue contends minors' brains aren't fully developed and that violent games can influence their behavior.Comment on this story
Last year, the American Psychological Association recommended that all violence be reduced in video games marketed to young people.
Hogue said his bill would not prohibit minors from possessing violent games or parents from purchasing them for their children. But he doesn't want an unaccompanied minor to have access to them.
"My feeling is that the industry has not done a good job at all of being able to police this themselves," Hogue said. "The thing that bothers me is I've got a 13-year-old granddaughter right now that can walk into a Blockbuster and pick these things up."