SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (AP) – Missouri State University officials are discussing whether to limit or ban the use of Nerf guns used in a popular weeklong campus 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.
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.”
Chad Holmes, faculty adviser for Live Action Society, an organization that organizes the game, said participants are required to sign safety waivers and are not allowed to paint Nerf guns, which are usually orange or lime green, to make them look like real guns. Holmes acknowledged that the game can sometimes look suspicious and suggested a campus-wide email could reduce the number of concerned callers.
“The biggest solution to that is just awareness,” he said.
Clark said he is most concerned with averting a conflict between an armed police officer and a participant.
“That can end in disaster, and that’s ultimately what we’re trying to prevent,” he said.
The Live Action Society is already planning the spring game 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,” Holmes said.
© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.