Pro-family groups ask Shurtleff to support video game law

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SALT LAKE CITY -- Pro-family groups in Utah want Attorney General Mark Shurtleff to support a California law against violent video games.

The law, prohibiting the sale of violent video games to minors, is headed to the U.S. Supreme Court. If the Supreme Court rules it constitutional, there could be a push to get a similar law passed in other states -- including Utah.

Last week, Shurtleff said he and several other attorneys general are considering filing a friend-of-the-court brief opposing California's law. Shurtleff said he is considering getting involved in the case because if the Supreme Court rules in California's favor, it will recognize a causal link between video game violence and violent crime that could become a defense strategy.

Adults can continue to buy these games, no matter how violent. They can even buy them for their kids if they want to. We just don't want children to be able to purchase them.

–Gayle Ruzicka, Utah Eagle Forum.

Tuesday Utah pro-family organizations like United Families Utah and Utah Eagle Forum asked Shurtleff to protect children by supporting the law, rather than opposing it.

"These games, even though not literal, virtual, it affects their minds and they act out on those things they see, and it is harmful for them," said parent Karen Clark.

"Adults can continue to buy these games, no matter how violent. They can even buy them for their kids if they want to," said Gayle Ruzicka, president of the Utah Eagle Forum. "We just don't want children to be able to purchase them."

The law passed in California in 2005, prohibiting the sales of violent video games to those under 18 years old. But the 9th circuit court in California ruled it unconstitutional, and now the U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to look at it sometime this fall.

Already 11 attorneys general are writing a brief in favor of California's law. However, Shurtleff is considering writing a brief opposing the law.

"If we do file it, it will be narrowly tailored to deal with two things: free speech and our law enforcement concern at handing a Supreme Court-recognized defense to every criminal out there: 'Oh, yeah, the video game made me do it,'" he said.

Shurtleff was not at a press conference held Tuesday, though a representative from his office was.

"He's discussing with other attorneys general if the law, the way it is written, is constitutional, and two, whether it goes too far in taking away individual rights and the rights of parents to decide what is best for their children," said spokesman Paul Murphy.

Murphy made it clear Shurtleff has not declared a side in the case and is still looking over the law with other attorneys general.

Regardless of what side Shurtleff or others take, it will be the U.S. Supreme Court who will make the ultimate ruling.


Story compiled with contributions from Amanda Butterfield and the Associated Press.

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