Four teens were involved in a fatal auto crash on December 4 following what police believe to be triggered by a Nerf war. Nerf wars are battles between two or more players, as individuals or on teams, using the toy guns that fire foam bullets. The games have become somewhat of a tradition with high school seniors who form teams, each playing to take out the opponents. While the games are often played in neighborhoods, on school grounds, and in wooded areas, in recent years they have been extended to cars.
When police arrived at the scene on December 4, they found a pickup truck had rolled and two victims were lying dead in the roadway. Another teen was found wandering dazed after the crash, while a fourth was sitting near the crash site. Police are investigation whether “Nerf wars” played any role in the crash; there are allegations that Nerf guns were found in the car.
This game of innocent fun has led to safety concerns nationwide. Last year, a Duluth, North Dakota police officer saw two cars run a red light causing crossing traffic to slam on brakes to avoid an accident. The officer managed to stop the careless drivers; when he questioned them, the officer discovered the reason for their negligent driving was Nerf wars. In Wisconsin, local residents watched a group of teens in one car pull up to another group and started “shooting.” In this incident, police received frantic calls of armed and dangerous teens on the loose. In other reports, Nerf wars taking place while some players are in cars and others on foot. There have even been reports of players entering a home unannounced to shoot another player while they were sleeping. This presents great risks as family members may be unaware of such a game occurring, leading to serious or fatal consequences in order to seek protection.
If that wasn’t enough, Internet sites have shown Nerf war participates how to modify the guns to make them shoot farther and with more force. For example to weight the Nerf gun, users may add springs and hot glue metal washers with padding over them. People have been knocked out or hit in the eye by these modified darts.
As innocent as these games may be and while no one wants to stymie kids from having fun, police nationwide urge parents to talk to their kids about the dangers associated with playing Nerf gun wars. Spread public awareness and safety with this advice to kids:
- Do not chase other players into local businesses or community buildings while drawing, pointing or firing a dart. It may cause alarm and result in unexpected reactions by others, including a call for police response.
- Do not engage in Nerf wars while driving or riding in a car.
- Do not enter a home unannounced. Not only is it illegal, but the potential for an unintended response from someone inside the house or by law enforcement is high.
- If you are stopped or confronted by law enforcement, keep your hands visible and do not make any sudden movements that may cause the officer to believe you are reaching for a weapon that could harm them.
Attorney, certified civil mediator, and award-winning author of the Zachary Blake Betrayal Series. Mark Bello is also a member of the State Bar of Michigan, a sustaining member of the Michigan Association for Justice, and a member of the American Association for Justice.