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Bill to Tax Violent Video Games Introduced in Oklahoma

If you can't pass a law banning the sale of violent video games to minors, why not just slap on an extra tax? That should discourage sales to minors, right? That's the central idea behind a new proposal slithering out of Oklahoma by House Rep. William Fourkiller (D. 86th District).

According to the new bill, HB 2696, consumers purchasing games rated Teen, Mature and Adult Only by the ESRB would have a 1-percent tax added on to the current pricetag. Money generated from the "Violent Game Tax" would go towards the state's Childhood Outdoor Education Revolving Fund to fight obesity and the Bullying Prevention Revolving Fund.

Fourkiller, whose last name sounds like an Xbox Live alias, claims he was inspired to write the bill based on first-hand experience on how video games can lead to obesity and bullying. "A gentleman shot a police officer and stole his car," he told Oklahoma City's KFOR-TV, referring to a recent incident. "He had been playing Grand Theft Auto."

Fourkiller said that he's not personally targeting the gaming industry, but is quite astonished that an actual game called "Bully" even exists given that bullying is (supposedly) one of the side affects kids face after playing violent video games. But he also acknowledges that not everyone reacts to video games in the same way.

"I believe after hours and hours of watching the screen, playing the video game, being that person and taking on that role, people get desensitized," he added.

If the bill is approved by Republican governor Mary Fallin, all games sold within the state with a "T," "M" or "AO" rating will see a 1-percent price increase starting as early as July 1. The bill was supposedly read before the House on Monday, February 6.

Wired has a copy of the proposal here in PDF format. It's believed that the bill will likely fail even if it becomes a law, a failure based on the ruling by the Supreme Court back in June 2011 which said California could not declare violent video games as obscene to exempt them from First Amendment protection.

So far there's no word on the bill's progress given that it's a day after the reading before the House, so stay tuned. There's also a good chance we'll see copycat lawmen in other states try and pull the same stunt in the next few weeks. Here we go again.