- The Washington Times - Sunday, February 6, 2005

Every year or so politicians attack video games for purportedly corrupting America’s youth and promoting criminal behavior. After some public gestures, people realize crime and violence come from other sources — like real criminals — and the outrage passes. Now Washington, a city that averages about a homicide every other day, is wasting time and resources to re-enact this pointless debate.

On Thursday, D.C. Council member Adrian Fenty introduced a bill to ban the sale of violent video games like “Grand Theft Auto” and “Mortal Kombat” to minors. A ban would be useless: Minors are already prohibited from buying the games. Speaking to the Washington Post, Ian “Red” Morganstein, an assistant manager at the retail store For Your Entertainment in Friendship Heights, said he regularly turns away minors who want the titles, as is his store’s policy, only to see the children come back with their parents who purchase the games. “If you’re concerned about it, don’t bring your 8-year-old son in here to buy games about violence and sex,” he said.

Washington is a city with real crime problems. According to the Metropolitan Police Department, Washington suffered 15 homicides, 334 robberies and 231 instances of assault in January alone. Can banning video games do anything about that? We don’t think so, and we doubt anyone seriously believes otherwise.

None of this has stopped Mr. Fenty from his political grandstanding, however. On Thursday, he called the games “geared toward making whoever is playing perpetuate the worst parts of our society.” At a gathering at the First Rock Baptist Church in Benning Terrace, he rallied supporters behind the bill and pledged harsh penalties against any retailer caught selling to minors.

Now, it seems that even Mayor Anthony A. Williams would support the ban. In a city with some of the worst crime in the nation, then, our officials will be spending taxpayer dollars trying to fight video-game violence.

This is a gross abdication of responsibility. We call on Mr. Fenty to stop wasting the D.C. Council’s time with pointless efforts to regulate video-game sales. There’s real crime to be fought in Washington; banning video games does nothing to aid that effort.

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