If Rep. David Hogue (R) has his way - and so far he's on a roll - it will soon be a felony to provide a violent video game to a minor in the state of Utah.
As reported by the Salt Lake Tribune, Hogue's bill, HB257, passed the state House of Representatives by a 56-8 vote yesterday. The measure equates violent games with pornography, and would add such games to a Utah statute normally used only to prosecute those who provide smut to kids.
Hogue linked violent games to school shootings, including Columbine.
"Would these same kids have done this anyway without watching violent videos? Maybe not."
Hogue also mentioned Resident Evil 4, the Grand Theft Auto series and Rockstar's upcoming Bully to the Tribune.
"You can get even with bullies. You take a baseball bat and beat up their heads," he said. "It is going to show kids how to respond in school. Is this what we want our kids doing?"
Games which violate the proposed law would need to be "patently offensive to prevailing standards in the adult community" and lack any serious "literary, artistic, political or scientific value for minors."
Republican Rep. Scott Wyatt opined that only the "most depraved" video games would fall under this bill. However, Republican Rep. Margaret Dayton and Democratic Rep. Ross Romero had concerns over the bill's constitutionality.
For his part, Hogue expressed confidence the measure would survive First Amendment challenges. "It will set an example that Utah is a family state," he said.
HB257 will now be considered by the Utah State Senate.
UPDATE: A little more on Hogue's bill can be found in the Provo Daily Herald, including this quote from Republican Rep. Lorie Fowlke:
"I think it is worth a try. Otherwise we give up and say the court will always determine our values."
GP: Here on GamePolitics we have been tracking Hogue's bill closely. As recently as last Sunday we noted an op-ed piece by a pair of well-known First Amendment law scholars who judged HB257 unconstitutional.