Missouri State U Considering Ban On Nerf Guns

The price of paranoia is rather steep.

It started with a campus-wide Nerf gun game.

About 500 people took part in October’s “Humans vs. Zombies” game, in which players try to tag other people, who then become zombies. The humans can defend themselves by stunning the zombies with Nerf guns or balled-up socks.

During October’s game, a professor called 911 and put a classroom on lockdown after thinking he saw a real gun. And the university’s safety and transportation department got several calls to its non-emergency number while the game was being played, The Springfield News-Leader reported.

The game is not played inside but it does go on at all hours of the day. The Nerf guns can sometimes look like real weapons, particularly in low-light, said Don Clark, director of the university’s Department of Safety and Transportation.

“When we get that call, we have to make the initial assessment that it might be a real gun,” he said.

This is indeed a problem and it needs to be fixed. Several possibilities come to mind. First, require officials be notified about Humans v. Zombies games that will be played on campus. Second, create a more workable response process than “When we get hat call, we have to make the initial assessment that it might be a real gun.” Why not ask some questions and find out the distance between the witness and the alleged firearm? If they were far away, do some investigation first. Also, it seems to me that college faculty tend to come from a group whose experience with firearms tends to be really low. Their experience with combat-type games doesn’t seem much better. It might be a worthwhile investment to require them to attend some seminars on real firearms and various toy guns.

Of course, the campus agrees with me that something must be done, but their considering a much simpler response:

Ban all Nerf guns.

Missouri State University officials are discussing whether to limit or ban the use of Nerf guns used in a popular weeklong campus game.


Several colleges across the country have banned Nerf guns.

“That’s probably an option that we’ll discuss,” Clark said. “I wouldn’t say that’s where we want to end up.”

I can only hope the college leadership goes a more reasonable direction than a ban on games involving toy guns. To bring up just one consideration, these games involve real physical activity and social interaction. If all toy gun games are banned, then the only combat games left will be computer games.

Do we really want to force people who enjoy pretend-shooting games into basements and bedrooms playing violent virtual reality immersion games?