Missouri State University is considering a ban on Nerf guns – yes, Nerf guns – after a recent lighthearted game ended in a campus lockdown.
In October, MSU’s Live Action Society held a Humans vs. Zombies game in which humans defend themselves against attacking zombies with Nerf guns. Harmless, right? Not so fast. A professor who was seemingly unaware of the game saw a student carrying a Nerf gun and mistook it for a real gun. He reported the sighting to campus police who, for good reason, immediately put the campus in lockdown mode.
To avoid a repeat incident, the school is now considering banning the Nerf guns from campus. They would not be the first school across the nation to do so. MSU Department of Safety and Transportation director Don Clark spoke to the media about the school’s predicament.
“When they see them, sometimes in low-light conditions, they don’t recognize them as toy guns,” Clark said. “When we get that call, we have to make the initial assessment that it might be a real gun.”
Students are forbidden from painting the Nerf guns to look like real guns, but that apparently isn’t enough to prevent the confusion. Clark said the ultimate goal of any policy change will be preventing a possible conflict involving an armed police officer. He added that the school’s ultimate goal is not to ban Nerf guns or the campus game, but that they must consider their options.
“That’s probably an option that we’ll discuss,” Clark said. “I wouldn’t say that’s where we want to end up.”
Live Action Society’s faculty advisor Chad Holmes admitted that the game can look suspicious to unaware faculty and students. The solution, he says, is not to ban Nerf guns or the game, but to raise awareness. That’s the message he’s hoping to convey at an upcoming meeting with the school’s safety staff.
“The biggest solution to that is just awareness,” Holmes said. “We might actually come out of it with some solid precedence of protection for Nerf guns. That’s my hope.”