Recently, Nerf blasters have been making the news not for how fun and awesome they are, but for safety concerns. Parents have been wondering whether Nerf guns are safe for their kids, and when you type the phrase “Are Nerf” into the Google search bar, a top question that pops up is “Are Nerf guns dangerous?”

These safety concerns over Nerf guns started in late April, when mass media covered how 6 high school students in Wausau, Wisconsin received disorderly conduct citations for having a “Senior Shoot-Out” style Nerf War as part of their class tradition. Neighbors saw the students pointing Nerf guns at each other and called the police, leading to the students being arrested and cited. There was uproar as parents questioned how the situation was handled, and the citations were eventually dropped.

Following this coverage of the Wausau incident, several high school districts sent letters or emails home at the end of May warning parents about their seniors being engaged in Nerf War battles. These areas included the Eau Claire Area School District in Wisconsin and the Hudson School District in Minnesota.

It’s important to not misunderstand however. Nerf guns are not inherently dangerous, as like any toy, they can be played with safely or recklessly. These warnings intended to proactively inform parents about the danger of risky behavior during a Nerf War.

While it’s easy to view these school districts’ concerns as overly cautious, potentially dangerous behavior has occurred. In Minnesota, the worst was a head-on car collision from seniors playing while driving. Thankfully there were no injuries; however, the following advice and precautions are good to keep in mind when playing with Nerf guns.

  • Nerf darts are foam and fairly harmless. However, eyes are easily damaged, so avoid direct shots to the face.
  • Wearing eye protection like safety glasses is advised (especially for younger children and all participants in Nerf Wars).
  • Nerf guns can be a great teaching tool. For example, children can do target shooting (to improve motor control) or practice how to add, subtract, and multiply basic numbers by shooting down numbered plastic cups.
  • A Nerf blaster can be a great starting point to instill proper gun handling techniques in children and can help keep them safe if they ever come across a real gun. These include precautions like:
  1. Don’t look down the barrel even if you think it’s not loaded.
  2. Keep your finger off the trigger and the gun pointed at the ground until ready to aim at your target. No shooting people/only target people with Nerf guns who are ok being shot (like those participating in a Nerf War).
  3. To prevent misfires, don’t leave your gun lying around loaded.
  • Don’t shoot at animals- its mean and hurts their trust in you.
  • Don’t commit reckless or criminal behavior during “Senior Shoot-Out” style Nerf Wars. This includes breaking and entering homes, trespassing private property, and especially shooting Nerf guns at a car or from a car. Some regions have laws mandating several hundred dollar fines for throwing/shooting objects at cars, and the last thing you want is anyone driving a vehicle weaving around and getting into a major accident.

Do you have any Nerf gun safety tips that we didn’t cover?
Share them with us in the comments below!