A riddle: What’s the difference between a Nerf gun and a gun that fires bullets that can injure or kill? The answer is none, if you’re the professor at Missouri State University who ordered a lockdown of his classroom and called 911 after he saw one of the brightly-colored toys and assumed it was a “real” gun. (Yes, we are acquainted with modified Nerf guns, which are made to resemble actual assault weapons, but that isn’t the kind the students on campus were using.)
The fact that the gun sighting occurred during the school’s weeklong “Humans vs. Zombies” game, played every October, might have also signaled that the weapon was fake, but that hasn’t stopped university officials from discussing whether to limit or ban the use of Nerf guns in the future.
The Springfield News Leader writes that some 500 people took part in this year’s contest, in which players try to tag others, who then become zombies. The humans then defend themselves by “stunning” the zombies with Nerf guns or balled-up socks. There is no word yet on whether the school is considering banning socks.
The game, which is played outdoors, goes on all hours of the day. 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. Holmes acknowledged that the game can “look suspicious” and suggested that a campus-wide email be sent out in advance to reduce the number of concerned callers.
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