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News : Missouri State University Taking A Look At Nerf Guns Involving Campus Game
Posted by Randy on 2013/12/16 5:30:00 (428 reads) News by the same author

Missouri State University is taking a closer look at a brand of toy guns in the wake of the increasing popularity of a semi-annual, campus-wide game called “Humans vs. Zombies.”

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One professor this fall even called 911 and put a classroom in lockdown after seeing someone with what would be later identified as a Nerf gun.

“The gist of it is, one person starts out as a zombie out of all the participants that sign up, and that person has to go and tag all the other people that signed up, the humans,” said Chad Holmes, faculty adviser for the campus organization Live Action Society, which organizes the game. “When a human is tagged, they turn into a zombie, but they can defend themselves by stunning the zombies with either a Nerf dart or a balled-up sock.”

A record 500 students participated in the weeklong game in October, Holmes said, making it one of the largest in the country. That was only a few years after being held locally for the first time.

While Humans. vs. Zombies isn’t played inside, it is played at all hours of the day. Experienced humans know that even short walks between buildings — even at midnight — shouldn’t be undertaken without the protection of bright-colored foam-based weaponry. (Or socks, but who would choose socks?)

“You could be going from late night (dining) to your dorm, and there could be zombies,” said Chris Marfoglio, a junior theater major and the society’s logistics officer.

The game has posed some challenges to MSU’s Department of Safety and Transportation. In addition to the professor who dialed 911, department director Don Clark said numerous concerned people have called the department’s non-emergency number while the game was being played.

“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,” he added.

Clark said he initiated what has become a campus-wide discussion to “make sure everyone has a good idea what the issue is.” Both he and Holmes have spoken before MSU’s Student Government Association.

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.”

Ensuring guns look like toys
Holmes and Live Action Society members are quick to point out the safety measures they already take. Participants are required to sign safety waivers, and game moderators monitor any issues that arise. Additionally, humans are not allowed to paint Nerf guns — which are typically colors like orange and lime green — to look like a real gun.

Clark called the society’s members “very cooperative,” and confirmed that they inform the department at least a month in advance of when the game will be played.

Holmes, in a separate interview, acknowledged Clark’s concerns.

“It can look suspicious at times,” he said of the game.

Holmes said a campus-wide email could help cut down on confused and concerned callers.

“The biggest solution to that is just awareness,” he said.

A survey sent out by the Student Government Association found that approximately 95 percent of respondents thought Nerf guns were not a safety issue on campus, Holmes said.

Clark said he is most concerned with averting a “conflict” involving an armed police officer.

“That can end in disaster, and that’s ultimately what we’re tying to prevent,” he said.

Holmes said he doesn’t expect a ban to be levied. In fact, the Live Action Society is already planning the spring installment — and members are aiming for 1,000 participants this time.

“We might actually come out of it with some solid precedence of protection for Nerf guns. That’s my hope.”

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