It is rather unfortunate that swatting remains a prevalent “prank” in the gaming community, with famous streamers such as Dr. Disrespect even being the target of such a life-threatening act. Despite the potential legal risks for the would-be pranksters and the intended subject, swatting sadly continues to rear its ugly head from time to time, but a new piece of anti-swatting legislation is attempting to curb this practice in Wichita, Kansas.
For clarification, swatting is the act of falsely accusing another gamer of an illegal action and thereby tricking the police to respond with a SWAT unit. Many may remember when this occurred late last year and resulted in the death of Andrew Finch, a 28-year-old father of two, after an argument concerning a Call of Duty: WW2 game (that Finch may not have even been involved in.) Now, the Andrew T. Finch anti-swatting bill, if approved, would see anyone who makes a swatting call that results in death or extreme injury imprisoned for a maximum of 41 years.
The bill essentially turns the act into a level one felony charge. It is worth noting, however, that the bill accounts for criminal history, and those whose record is relatively clean could face as a few as 10 years in prison. Though this bill has passed the Kansas Senate, it is currently awaiting final approval from Governor Jeff Colyer (R). While there is no firm confirmation that Governor Colyer will actually approve the bill, it seems likely considering the Kansas Senate and House each passed the bill without a single dissenting vote.
Speaking of the bill named after her son, Lisa Finch stated she was “very happy” that the bill passed. In fact, she went on to say, “It is amazing to me. I’m very happy that it’s named after my son. If it prevents even one tragedy like this happening to another family, that will be amazing.”
While many gamers, parents, and individuals alike may very well share Ms. Finch’s sentiment, at the very least, in her son’s case, an arrest was made for Tyler Barriss, a 25-year-old Los Angeles resident who was charged with involuntary manslaughter. Hopefully, this bill proves to be the first step forward in curbing such a senseless act of violence.