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Talking to young people about Nerf Wars and safety (a message from St. Louis Park Police Chief Mike Harcey)

Post Date:May 07, 2018 7:00 a.m.

Nerf Wars – it’s become a rite of spring for many high school students, along with prom, final exams and graduation. Unfortunately, Nerf Wars can quickly become a dangerous game for students. It’s the job of parents and public safety officials to help students understand the risks and to participate responsibly.

If you haven’t heard of Nerf Wars, it’s a game where students pay money to participate, either alone or as part of a team. If they are “shot” by a Nerf gun, they’re out. The remaining student or team wins the money.

Over the past several years, police chiefs across many metro cities have reported accidents, injuries and most tragically, deaths of students who have been participating in this game – often related to playing in or around moving vehicles. This increase led the Minnesota Chiefs of Police Association in 2017 to issue a statement outlining the risks and offering suggestions for staying safe.

If your student decides to play Nerf Wars, they should follow these tips to stay safe:

  • Never play the game in or near a moving vehicle, whether as a driver or a passenger, including shooting from a vehicle. A number of incidents have been reported in the past few years of accidents, injuries and even deaths of students in vehicles playing the game. Rowdy and aggressive behavior has no place in or around a vehicle.
  • Use caution when engaging in Nerf Wars on public property or in neighborhoods. Never enter a private home without permission. Be respectful of others who are using public spaces such as parks.
  • Stick to using brightly colored Nerf guns that are obviously not real firearms. Don’t use replica guns in public places.
  • Don’t add other materials to projectiles in the Nerf guns. Stick to the provided spongy projectiles that won’t cause serious injury. Avoid aiming for the face to avoid eye injury.
  • If you encounter police while in possession of a Nerf-type gun, put it down immediately and follow the officers' instructions. In most cases, youth may be asked for their name and/or identification and released if it is confirmed that no harmful or unlawful activity has taken place.

Following these expectations will allow students to play a game of strategy and teamwork with their friends, while remaining safe and respecting the boundaries of others in the community.

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