Chicago, Illinois, has seen a spike in carjackings in 2021, even though carjackings in 2020 increased more than 135% compared to 2019. To combat the spike, an Illinois lawmaker has proposed banning “Grand Theft Auto,” a video game that hasn’t had a new entry in almost a decade.
By the end of January, new records were being set in the city when it came to carjackings, the Chicago Tribune reported.
“Through Jan. 10, the latest city data, Chicago police recorded 61 carjackings. That is compared with a total of 22 in the same time period in 2020. Carjackings in 2020 rose about 135%, to 1,415 in 2020 from 603 in 2019,” the outlet reported.
“The gangs are using these vehicles because they feel they can’t be traced,” South Chicago District Capt. Michael Murphy told the Tribune. “They can do their crimes, whether it be shootings or whatever it is, and then dump the car.”
In total, Chicago saw 218 carjackings in January 2021 alone.
Fox 32 Chicago reported that some in Illinois are blaming the video game series Grand Theft Auto for the recent spike, even though the franchise hasn’t had a new entry since Grand Theft Auto V and Grand Theft Auto Online were released in the fall of 2013. While the games have received downloadable content and updates since then and they maintain a massive regular fanbase, the lack of a new, headline-generating frenzy contradicts the idea that the video game is responsible for Chicago’s crime wave.
Still, activist and philanthropist Early Walker suggested the game could be at least partly responsible, and he met with Illinois state Rep. Marcus Evans to draft legislation that would “amend a 2012 law preventing some games, including GTA, from being sold to children in Illinois,” Fox 32 reported.
The Chicago Sun-Times reported that Evans’ new bill would amend the 2012 law “to ban the sale to anyone of video games depicting ‘psychological harm,’ including ‘motor vehicle theft with a driver or passenger present.’”
Presumably, Grand Theft Auto was already banned from being sold to minors under the 2012 law, and due to its “mature” rating that means one must be over 17 to purchase the game.
The bill would also amend the definition of what constitutes a “violent video game” to include one where players “control a character within the video game that is encouraged to perpetuate human-on-human violence in which the player kills or otherwise causes serious physical or psychological harm to another human or an animal.”
One could argue that even games that aren’t mentioned as violent, such as Super Mario Bros., would be included in this definition since it features a human character occasionally jumping on turtle-like creatures.
Still, Walker blamed Grand Theft Auto specifically.
“I feel like this game has become a huge issue in this spectrum,” he told the Sun-Times. “When you compare the two, you see harsh similarities as it relates to these carjackings.”
Walker is behind Operation Safe Pump, a campaign to stop carjackings at gas stations and shopping centers by placing private security guards in areas where a lot of carjackings have occurred.
Chicago was one of many major U.S. cities that spent much of 2020 denouncing police as racists and seeking to “defund” them. As with those other cities, violent crimes surged as police were demonized and hampered, The Daily Wire’s Emily Zanotti previously reported. After the “Defund the Police” movement became popular in 2020, the U.S. saw the “largest percentage increase” in homicides in American history.
In addition to the police criticism that resulted in riots, the pandemic has also seen schools in major cities shut down for extended periods of time, leaving kids often unsupervised at home.
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