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New Bill Would Legally Restrict Age Inappropriate Games

The ESRB ratings are there for everyone to see. But if a new bill is passed, parents and retailers will be bound by law to respect those ratings.

This bill - dubbed H.R. 287, or the Video Games Ratings Enforcement Act - has been introduced to the United States House of Representatives and would make the ESRB ratings legally binding. As of now, there are no legal penalties for a retailer that sells age-inappropriate video games to kids. You can be fined, however.

The bill was introduced by representative Jim Matheson (R-Utah) on January 15 and will be discussed as part of the Committee on Energy and Commerce; the committee tackles subjects in the telecommunications, consumer protection, food and drug safety, public health research, environmental quality, energy policy, and interstate and foreign commerce areas. If the bill is passed, it would be officially unlawful for anyone to sell or rent games with AO ratings to any person under the age of 18. It would also be illegal to sell or rent games with an M-Mature rating to consumers under the age of 17, as per the ESRB's analysis.

It would further be against the law to sell a game that doesn't feature the ESRB rating "in a clear and conspicuous location." For the record- I've never seen a game that didn't boast an ESRB rating, and I also can't remember the last time a game was rated AO (Adults Only). That rating is typically financial suicide as most retailers won't even stock it and if they do, it's not often on public display. However, there are lots of M-rated games, so there's cause for action.

The ESRB has responded by saying they understand and support the sentiment behind the bill, but they still believe it's unconstitutional and we need to empower parents to fix the problem. ...the problem I have with that is we've tried to empower them. We've been trying for almost 20 years since the ESRB went into effect in 1994. All the education has been readily available. In the end, parents buy their kids violent games regardless of that education and hence, I would have to support this law.

I'll stop supporting it when the majority of parents prove that they can be parents. That hasn't happened yet in my eyes.

Tags: video games, violent video games, esrb, esrb law, hr 287

1/18/2013 11:37:09 AM Ben Dutka

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Comments (49 posts)

WorldEndsWithMe
Friday, January 18, 2013 @ 12:11:20 PM
Reply

I don't think the law would hurt anyone since you'd be hard pressed to find many retailers who break the rule already. I don't think it would actually do any good either though.

On a side note, I hope that once there are no physical copies of games to put on display that there are some actual AO games made. With the internet I don't think it's the suicidal move everyone thinks it is. If anything it would get tons of controversy attention.

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firesoul453
Friday, January 18, 2013 @ 1:46:16 PM

What about indie games? Wouldn't this destroy all but the large AAA game development studios?

Am I missing something?


edit: I guess they can still sell digital only? That still would hurt indie game companies.

Last edited by firesoul453 on 1/18/2013 1:46:54 PM

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WorldEndsWithMe
Friday, January 18, 2013 @ 2:07:30 PM

Off the top of my head I can't think of any indie games that are mature rated, and few appear as physical copies at retailers.

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firesoul453
Friday, January 18, 2013 @ 6:38:10 PM

I was under the impression that all physical copies (like if they even burned a disk and sold it themselves online) would be illegal because they don;t have an ESRB rating.

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Geobaldi
Friday, January 18, 2013 @ 8:48:44 PM

There are a lot of mature rated indie games, just not on consoles. My question though is how/if this will affect digital sales of the games as checking buyer ages for those sales is hard to impossible. Kid just has to ask for a parent credit card or whatever. But then again, digital copies of games can be gifted to people, not sure if they can on consoles, so the legal person will be buying it, just giving it to a minor. This bill still will not accomplish much.

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Underdog15
Saturday, January 19, 2013 @ 12:28:34 PM

Ps3 has parental controls. Kid can't play m rated game without parent's password.

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PHOENIXZERO
Saturday, January 19, 2013 @ 8:10:30 PM

When they include movies, CDs, books and somehow television into this then they can actually discuss it instead of trying to push unconstitutional legislation. The FTC has repeatedly shown that video games have been the most successful in terms of retailers preventing people under the suggested age limits from obtaining copies of. Worthless legislation is worthless and worthless politicians (which is pretty much all of them) need to be removed from and never allowed to run for office again.

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Underdog15
Saturday, January 19, 2013 @ 9:38:14 PM

You do realize this essentially would change nothing, right? Instead of minor fines, you would just get larger penalties similar to selling tobacco to minors. It just means more risk for like... Not doing your job. Lol that's it.

Last edited by Underdog15 on 1/19/2013 9:41:12 PM

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PHOENIXZERO
Sunday, January 20, 2013 @ 2:38:27 PM

You do realize that would lead to retailers pressuring publishers to just release games that would skirt the rating so they wouldn't have to put up with the potential problem, right? And at the end of the day it's still Un****ingconstitutional by way of the 1st and 14th amendments.

Cigarettes are not considered free speech and have proven, harmful side effects.

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Killa Tequilla
Friday, January 18, 2013 @ 12:21:54 PM
Reply

Gamestop sometimes puts out cases of games without the ESRB rating for used games. Sometimes they put stickers over the ESRB rating as well. I F****** hate it when they put stickers on the game cases.

It doesn't affect me if this bill is passed, maybe a few years back it would have. But can this bill affect game sales? Rating awareness might lower sales of certain games, like Call of Duty or other rated-M games. Might developers start developing more rated-T games?

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rogers71
Friday, January 18, 2013 @ 12:48:23 PM
Reply

This is all well and good but what these lawmakers need to realize is that this isn't going to stop all the ignorant parents from buying inappropriate games for their kids. Just like the gun laws aren't going to stop criminals from getting their hands on banned weapons.
All this will do is satisfy the bellyachers that are screaming for change. Don't get me wrong. I have no problem with putting a visegrip on retailers and forcing them to observe the ratings but like I said before, parents are still going to buy these games for their minor children so this is just a bandaid.
What does everyone else think?

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Dukemz_UK
Friday, January 18, 2013 @ 1:10:30 PM

Maybe it should become illegal for parents to allow their young kids access to mature rated media of all kinds, especially games and movies. Would societal values improve? How do u enforce this?

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slugga_status
Friday, January 18, 2013 @ 1:19:07 PM

I was basically going to say the same thing you just said. It's not going to stop anything at all.

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rogers71
Friday, January 18, 2013 @ 5:07:45 PM

@Dukem,
There really is no way to enforce that. Personally, I think parents haved turned to TV and video games to babysit their children.

When I was growing up, I played outside with other kids. Now, with the threat of some psycho yanking your kids off the street, parents let their kids have their hearts desire to keep them inside. Kids that constantly play online and never have face to face interaction or have minimal interaction become disjointed and delusional.

It's up to parents to teach kids right from wrong and reality versus fantasy. I don't think that is happening enough, therefore, you get mass killings and psychos galore.

This is a societal issue that I wouldn't even begin to try and tackle.

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Vivi_Gamer
Friday, January 18, 2013 @ 1:11:07 PM
Reply

It's how it should be... I'm sorry but I see no purpose in having a rating system like that if it isn't even effective. Here in the UK our rating system has always restricted from someone under-aged from access to Mature content within media. I work in a media store and if I were to sell a minor an 18+ rated game I could get a massive fine or even go to jail, so I have to be very careful - But I can at least respect it.

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PHOENIXZERO
Saturday, January 19, 2013 @ 8:11:36 PM

Except it is effective and has been far and away the most effective of any form of media with a rating system in the US/North America.

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AcHiLLiA
Friday, January 18, 2013 @ 1:14:05 PM
Reply

If the bill passes, I can still picture parents (who don't give a flying f***) buying mature games to their minors.

Last edited by AcHiLLiA on 1/18/2013 1:17:43 PM

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PSN French
Friday, January 18, 2013 @ 1:18:56 PM
Reply

...and I think we should make a law that turns everyones electronics off at 9pm sharp so parents are forced to send their kids to bed at a decent time.

This law is absolutely stupid. It is simply tyranny dressed up in morals, and I'm surprised at how many who believe that forcing their beliefs on me is help and not tyranny. There are already some who agree with the idiocy I stated above and it's only a few propaganda filled years away before the masses will agree too.

Last edited by PSN French on 1/18/2013 1:19:34 PM

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Friday, January 18, 2013 @ 1:33:18 PM

Your analogy is a terrible one. And based on what I see from the "masses," the standard beliefs go in the exact opposite direction.

The only tyranny we're going to have to worry about will come from our own general incompetence, which is rapidly growing with every passing day.

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WorldEndsWithMe
Friday, January 18, 2013 @ 2:08:17 PM

If you are ever tyrannized, you'll know it.

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PSN French
Friday, January 18, 2013 @ 9:08:56 PM

My analogy is simply the idea that just because it works for YOUR family does not mean everyone should be forced to live by those standards. I just don't understand why you care to control the "masses", let them screw up their children... they are, in fact, THEIR children. We all support the laws that don't affect us, and find tyranny in the ones that do. I simply do not feel the need to control those around me, I worry about my own family. Also, our own "general incompetence" is the exact reason for our incompetence. Ignoring individualism in favor of communism has been proven to decay society. If the government will do this and this for me, why can't it just do that... before long they do everything for us.

@World, tyranny comes in many forms, and only a small fraction of people actually recognize tyranny, while the rest view it as moral justification. I KNOW my country is being tyrannized, and that fact won't change because others close their minds to it.

I apologize Ben if I come across as condescending. I just disagree that more government is the answer to our problems, I believe governments are the source of most of the worlds problems.

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Underdog15
Saturday, January 19, 2013 @ 12:30:07 PM

Also immunizations kills, right? Yeah.... *rolls eyes*

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Saturday, January 19, 2013 @ 6:35:46 PM

I completely agree in that I don't believe "more government" is the solution. I rarely believe that's a solution.

However, think about what you're saying for a minute. You're saying you only care about your own family, and let everyone else mess up their own kids. That doesn't work, my friend. Because let's say your family is raised perfectly and everyone is just fine...and then you lose someone who comes into contact with one of those messed up kids from other families.

We all have to live on this planet and in this country together. All you're talking about is sticking your head in the sand and hoping none of the evil touches you.

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kraygen
Friday, January 18, 2013 @ 1:43:26 PM
Reply

I have to disagree with passing this. While I feel parents should be the ones to control their children and they obviously are not, that doesn't automatically make it ok for the government to pass unconstitutional law to force the issue.

This is part of the problem to begin with, people expect the government to handle all of their problems and in saying that parents aren't handling it, let the government handle it, you're only allowing people to continue to depend on the government for all their problems.

If anything I see laws like this as enabling the problem, not fixing it.

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Friday, January 18, 2013 @ 1:45:49 PM

I would agree if this held legal ramifications for the parents. This is only on businesses. If a business sells an M-rated game to a minor, they are held responsible. The parents don't get fined or go to jail or anything.

It's merely a message to parents in my mind. That the ratings aren't just fun and games. That they're not just vague guidelines that don't really mean anything.

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kraygen
Friday, January 18, 2013 @ 1:55:23 PM

I don't disagree, but I think all this law would do is give parents the impression that now their kids can't get their hands on games they shouldn't because the government passed a new law.

In the end however those same parents will then go out and buy their children the mature game anyway, so this bill essentially does nothing but harass business' about something they most likely aren't doing anyway.

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WorldEndsWithMe
Friday, January 18, 2013 @ 2:09:32 PM

Regulating software content sales isn't unconstitutional. If it was then DRM wouldn't be taking over our lives.

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Friday, January 18, 2013 @ 2:14:10 PM

It doesn't harass business at all. There are a great many things that are illegal to sell to minors, and for good reason.

All it does is send a stronger message. I don't think it would have a drastic impact or even a significant one, but any impact is worthwhile if it helps insure the safety of children.

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LowKey
Friday, January 18, 2013 @ 2:27:07 PM
Reply

Fuck Censorship!!

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CH1N00K
Friday, January 18, 2013 @ 4:40:41 PM

Huh, I thought this site censored swear words....

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SirLoin of Beef
Monday, January 21, 2013 @ 10:53:18 AM

What's your point, LowKey? This isn't censorship.

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SpikeSpiegel
Friday, January 18, 2013 @ 2:56:14 PM
Reply

While this bill is all well and good in hopefully making irresponsible parents more aware of the ESRB ratings, one thing is concerning: if you read section 3 of the bill (nerd alert) it states that ANY person who attempts to sell M or AO games to a minor can be subject to punishment. This may make me sound paranoid, but this could be something that can haunt us later on when it comes to eBay sales or something similar in the secondary market.

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LowKey
Friday, January 18, 2013 @ 3:40:22 PM
Reply

These stupid bills are made because some a**hole who is of age goes on a shooting spree and gun enthusiasts need something to blame to keep their rights to guns. What a fu**ing joke. Stop using video games as scapegoats.

Last edited by Ben Dutka PSXE on 1/18/2013 4:42:01 PM

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wackazoa
Friday, January 18, 2013 @ 3:45:05 PM
Reply

Ok fine. But question, how old was the guy who shot up the Sandy Hook school ?

Last edited by wackazoa on 1/18/2013 3:45:22 PM

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CH1N00K
Friday, January 18, 2013 @ 4:24:51 PM

I think the question is how old was he when he was subjected to content that may have altered his mind...I'm not saying that video games are the cause, but if someone shows signs of mental instability, subjecting them to blood and gore video games, movies and media probably isn't the answer...but, then again, if someone said I couldn't play a violent video game and forced me to play "Pet the harmless fluffy bunny" all day...I'd probably snap and lose it too...

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cadpig
Friday, January 18, 2013 @ 4:04:52 PM
Reply

Wow, all this time i thought we had that law in place..Just wasn't enforced.

Do we really have a problem with kids buying rated M games? How is this going to stop little kids from playing M rated games?

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gumbi
Friday, January 18, 2013 @ 4:15:04 PM
Reply

I'm not for or against this, because it's useless either way. Other than maybe raising some awareness, it's not going to make a difference if this bill is passed. I don't know of any brick and mortar retailers that will sell 'M' games to kids anyway. Parents, family members, and friends are already buying 'M' games for kids.

Making it illegal for retailers to do something they're not doing anyway changes nothing...

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CH1N00K
Friday, January 18, 2013 @ 4:16:15 PM
Reply

They can go ahead and try, but who's going to enforce it. Don't get me wrong, I'm all for kids not having access to games that aren't designed for them, but has this ever really worked? There's already laws on other "age restricted" things, it's not stopping the kids. Underage drinking is still an issue, minors with cigarettes and weed is still an issue, and access to pornography is still an issue..

Sure bring on the law...but will it change anything? And will they back it up? And if they do, how many millions of tax payers dollars are they going to spend in doing so? I agree something needs to be done...I just don't know if this will work...

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Lawless SXE
Friday, January 18, 2013 @ 4:27:56 PM
Reply

That's how it's always been here in Australia. The ratings provided by the ACB/OFLC are legally binding, with MA15+ and R/X18+ illegal for anyone under those age restrictions. Sales do sometimes get made, but not in a great many cases, and I remember being pulled up several times by shopkeepers when I was younger. Unfortunately, it's all too simple for a kid to get their parents to buy it for them.

It's an issue that really can't be tackled without waking parents up to the fact that some things are not appropriate for young kids. Like M15+ for 4/5 year olds. Seriously...

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rogers71
Friday, January 18, 2013 @ 4:58:18 PM
Reply

If you go online and play these FPS games, the majority of the players that I run into are under age, foul mouthed and without manners. I am willing to bet that this time next year, it will be the same way. As I stated previously, this law is only to appease those that want a change of some sort.

It is the video game law equivalent of banning assault weapons. I don't have a problem with this law, the only problem I have is that it only keeps people that want to purchase this weapon through the proper channels from getting it.
Criminals can and always will get their hands on guns regardless of laws and parents can and always will buy their children M rated games to keep them happy. These laws are bandaids that will never stop the bleeding of mindless parents that want to keep 'little johnny' from pitching a fit. Whatever, I feel like kicking on Grand Theft Auto and killing some hookers. LOL

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Hand_of_Sorrow
Friday, January 18, 2013 @ 6:37:44 PM
Reply

(outside of gamestop)
"13 year old" hey mister, if i give you the money, would you buy me COD?
"grown up" sure kid, no problem

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bigrailer19
Friday, January 18, 2013 @ 8:20:17 PM
Reply

This should be a good thung actually. If I was under 17 I might think differently ;).
Honestly though, theres already something in place and all retailers I know, already abide by this and have standard. Thats mainly why im ok with it.

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BikerSaint
Friday, January 18, 2013 @ 10:59:28 PM
Reply

Just another totally worthless "feel good" bill, to look like they're actually trying to placate the masses, while all the time he or she was only doing it to making themselves (bill sponsor) look good in his or her own eyes.

It's not about helping at all. It's all about the government wanting to take bit by bit, more & more control over the people until one day they're no longer free citizens, but are instead only subjects to their federal governments.

Just like the BS they're trying to pull to strip legal law-abiding citizens of their legal guns & rights.

And.....by doing so, they'll still never be able to stop more mass murders because the mentally ill & especially the criminals, certainly won't be saying "Yes sir, Right away sir" and standing in line to turn in all of their illegal guns.

Plus our own federal government is the most criminally corrupt of all with guns, especially when it came to gun-running illegal guns.

From Obama, Holder, & down to all the brass of the ATF who green-lighted "the Fast & Furious" straw-man gun-running scam & scandal, that sold thousands of illegal weapons to criminals, and also to Mexican cartels who in turned killed one of our own Border Agent's with one of those traced-back guns.

Plus, just how many of Mexico's own citizens were slaughtered with those very same guns that ATF was so hap-hazard to dole out to criminals & Mexico's own drug cartels????

Don't believe me, then go Google "The ATF - Fast & Furious scandal" for yourself & see how many pages upon pages there is.
plus the cover up, & the o's executive orders which covered A.G. Holder's a$$ & also has hindered any info from being released so far.


Last edited by BikerSaint on 1/18/2013 11:03:25 PM

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JROD0823
Saturday, January 19, 2013 @ 12:07:49 AM
Reply

This is as far as the nonsense needs to go.

I do think that kids should have been restricted from playing games with content above their age range for a long time now.

Even though games are most certainly not the cause of any of this violence that has been going on lately, there has been a major failure of proper parenting in the U.S., and many other countries by letting their children play games they aren't mentally and emotionally ready for.

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Hannah CVH
Saturday, January 19, 2013 @ 12:51:44 AM
Reply

I think the law is fine. It's stupid that little preteens can go to the shop and buy Call of Duty in America. Does any other country even do that?

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PHOENIXZERO
Saturday, January 19, 2013 @ 8:14:28 PM

Except they can't..... The vast majority of stores (and all major retailers) in this country require authorization at the point of sale which generally requires the employee being presented with a photo ID. Anyone under 17 obtaining a copy is at the failure of the person working at the register and if found out risks losing their job.

Any kids that get it are getting it because either they have an older sibling who bought the game or parents who did.

Last edited by PHOENIXZERO on 1/19/2013 8:15:08 PM

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BikerSaint
Sunday, January 20, 2013 @ 12:38:20 AM

emily lockwind,

Actually they can not(unless you have an unscrupulous store owner or stupid register biscuit who will wind up fined for their carelessness).

As a gaming collector I've been all over my state, plus many other states, and never even once did I see some kid NOT being I.D.ed for any M rated games.

Matter of fact, every single time that a kid was able to leave the store with a M rated game in his bag, was because the parent actually bought it for them, even after the cashier and/or myself explained to them that that M rated games really weren't suited for their 7 to 8 year old looking son.

And you know what? They always found one excuse after another to buy it for their kid anyway.

FYI, their #1 excuse always is that they'll be watching their kid.
Sadly enough, I know that's usually BS cause most parents let they keep their console in the kids bedroom, & a lot of parents just use their gaming console as their free personal home-care nanny & babysitter all day and/or night, just so they won't ever get in their parents hair.

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Toxin
Saturday, January 19, 2013 @ 4:28:52 AM
Reply

The MPAA is not law so why make the ESRB.
We still have underage drinking and smoking so how does making a law forcing the restrictions M rated game stop anything.
ESEB
http://www.esrb.org/ratings/
MPAA
http://www.mpaa.org/ratings/

To have them mandated by law is censorship.
http://tinyurl.com/b2yqnso

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Moebius
Sunday, January 20, 2013 @ 4:46:14 PM
Reply

Yes, yes, YES!! Please, by any means necessary this law MUST pass. This country needs more pointless legislation to get our minds off the real issues. We all know that the real problem is stores that refuse to sell violent games to minors, right? So let's make laws to force them to do what they are doing already. Makes perfect sense to me. While we are at it, how about a law that forces motorists to start they car before driving it? Or, even better, a law that makes it illegal to remove french fries from boiling oil with your bare hands!!! Just think of how much that will save in E.R. visits alone! Two simple laws and "VIOLA!!" no more accidents and the obesity problem solved. Plus, as an added bonus, with those in place we won't have time to worry about how we are going to pay our bills now that the Government is taxing us out of our homes. Win-Win!!!!

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