Boy Scouts Can’t Squirt Squirt Guns at Each Other and Must Use Goggles

Boy Scouts can’t shoot squirt guns at each other. Here’s the nytketikkz
 (see page 99). And here’s the article for Boy Scout leaders that points out:

 “Water guns and rubber band guns must only be used to shoot at targets, and eye protection must be worn.”

Water balloons, meanwhile, have a size limit: “For water balloons, use small, biodegradable balloons, and fill them no larger than a ping pong ball.”

First off, I was not even aware there ARE biodegradable balloons. And filling any balloon to only the size of a ping pong ball is like saying, “Please do not grow a pair. Ever.”

But in terms of the squirt gun rules: Why can’t kids shoot each other with a stream of water?

Because it’s harmless? Because it’s good clean fun? Because it’s a time-honored thing for kids to do?

Or is it because of a sort of blind belief that if we outlaw every activity that involves boys being boys — even an activity with the word “Boy” in its name  — somehow we will have triumphed over original sin AND avoided all possible lawsuits? Win/win…except that this is caving in to a craven idea of America.

Boys do not end up killers because they shoot squirt guns, any more than they end up rampaging nut jobs because they knocked down some building blocks as kids. For that matter, playing Transformers does not mean a boy grows up to become part robot. Kids are allowed to play without us reading a dark future into every shove.

And I say this as a mom who really loves the Scouts. Both my sons belong and it has been great. I admire the troop leaders and all the volunteer parents who help out. And at our troop, at least for as long as my sons have been involved, there has been no discrimination against gay anyone.

But there’s a reason most kids don’t wear their uniforms to school or even discuss their involvement much. It’s the uncoolness factor. That factor is not mitigated by these rules. 

If anyone is going to go on a rampage as an adult, maybe it’s the kids who were forced to wear goggles to shoot a squirt gun at a non-human target.


Boy Scout contraband?

The deadliest cache? 

Photo credit: Rusty Clark – Back In One Piece / Foter / CC BY




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63 Responses to Boy Scouts Can’t Squirt Squirt Guns at Each Other and Must Use Goggles

  1. Brooks May 21, 2015 at 12:30 pm #

    Well, my son is on his way to Eagle and I’ve never heard of this rule and assure you that our troop doesn’t follow it.

  2. BL May 21, 2015 at 12:36 pm #

    Squirt guns are dangerous. They are frequently used to project quantities of dihydrogen monoxide at vulnerable targets:

  3. ann May 21, 2015 at 12:47 pm #

    A water balloon filled to the size of a ping pong would never pop, would it? It would just bounce off of everything. Where’s the fun in that? And I want to know where the heck they are buying biodegradable water balloons!!!

  4. ann May 21, 2015 at 12:48 pm #

    OK… so who knew? Biodegradable water balloons really do exist!

  5. bob m May 21, 2015 at 12:58 pm #

    call in the NSGA (National Squirt Gun Association) to assert our 2nd Grade rights!!

    “You can get my squirt gun when you pry my wet, pruney fingers from the handle”

  6. Abigail May 21, 2015 at 1:11 pm #

    I’ll get behind not pointing a rubber band gun at people. But water/squirt guns – the whole point is to shoot your friends and family. Why there needs to be a rule for this is beyond me. It does help me understand one of my college professors refusal to provide class rules or expectations in his syllabus. Because today’s college students think if it isn’t against a rule, it is allowed. They expect everything to be spelled out. And commin sense then takes a backseat.

  7. Walter Underwood May 21, 2015 at 1:18 pm #

    There has been an uproar within the BSA about the squirt gun rule, and I’d bet that it will be changed.

    But…it is part of a good rule, that you NEVER point a gun at another person, even a toy gun. That is a really important rule and if it means that squirt guns are out, I’m OK with that.

    It also means that laser tag, Airsoft, and paintball are not approved as Scouting activities. You can do that with your friends, but it can’t be sponsored by a troop.

    On the other hand, Scouts can do all sorts of stuff safely, within the rules: archery (range and field), BB guns, air rifles, rifles (small and large caliber), black powder rifles, shotguns, handguns (age 14 and up), catapults, tomahawk throwing, and good ol’ slingshots.

    A long time ago, I did the BSA training and ran the rifle range at summer camp. Nearly all of that job was safety, even with .22 rifles.

  8. indigosky May 21, 2015 at 1:22 pm #

    Yet another reason to boycott the Boy Scouts. First their stupid rules on gays (will not support them until they lift the ban on gay adults) and now this. While I *highly* dislike guns and think gun safety is severely lacking (thus all the accidental shootings by kids), no kid is going to confuse a real gun with a water gun.

    But I do back the biodegradable water balloons. I am tired of seeing kids play water balloons and then leave the balloons for animals and small children to eat. At least they don’t do it by me anymore after I had lovely words with their parents. Have fun outside, yes. Respect that the world does not revolve around you and learn to pick up your stuff.

  9. Jill May 21, 2015 at 1:45 pm #

    Kids these days must be made of spun glass. I grew up playing lawn darts and shooting a real bow and arrow. Then there was the popular toy called Red Eye that resembled a medeival mace. Helicopter parents would have a conniption fit over Red Eye.
    On the other hand, biodegradible water balloons seem like a good idea.

  10. Warren May 21, 2015 at 1:47 pm #


    No pointing squirtguns or toyguns at each other, is a good rule? Then I would not want you teaching any gun safety to anyone. If the only way you can teach safety for something is with zero tolerance rules and guidelines, then it is time to give up teaching.

    The whole point of having squirt guns and toy guns, is that you can point them at each other safely. Duh!!!!

    Next kids will only be allowed to play with toy cars as long as they are always obeying the real rules of the road. If they start jumping their toy cars and crashing them up, it will only foster them to become sociopaths on the road and kill people.

    This whole BS about toy guns of any kind is just that BS. Society has become double crazy about guns. Either let em all tote guns, or guns of all kind are Satan’s tools.

    Guess what folks, you can pry all the toy guns out of every child’s hand, and they will just use hockey sticks, boards, their fingers or what ever they can come up with to mimic a gun.

    This is one battle parents cannot win. If they want to play anything dealing with a gun, they will find a way. Kids 1 Parents 0 on this one.

  11. Sneeje May 21, 2015 at 2:18 pm #

    While I don’t agree with the decision, the reason for the decision is not the one you think–it’s not the fact that they are are “guns”. For example, just last month I went with my son on a shotgun range campout (campsite near the gun range).

    The issue is whether shooting squirt guns at one another is “kind” (one of the 12 tenets of the Scout Law). Nevermind that any game that includes adverse behavior would probably not be considered “kind”. Essentially they are banning the use because the instances where boys with squirt guns chase down other boys without.

    In the end, it is a very short-sighted rule–boys (and girls) need to learn to persevere and live in a world where people do things to them they don’t like or be good sports when they are on the losing end of any game.

  12. lollipoplover May 21, 2015 at 2:26 pm #

    Any youth organization that feels the need to regulate water guns and balloons as part of normal kids playing needs to do a serious evaluation of what the hell they plan on teaching these kids.
    Kids love squirt gun battles with real live friends, not adult approved *targets*. It’s called playing.
    Stop typing up rules for rule books and ruining scouts.

  13. Ravana May 21, 2015 at 2:33 pm #

    This from an organization with close ties to the NRA?

  14. Wendy W May 21, 2015 at 2:34 pm #

    “The issue is whether shooting squirt guns at one another is “kind” (one of the 12 tenets of the Scout Law).”

    So because some kids are mean, all are banned from the activity. Sheesh! Our rule at home was “never squirt anyone who does not want to be squirted.” Pretty much covered it.

  15. Beth May 21, 2015 at 3:36 pm #

    “Either let em all tote guns, or guns of all kind are Satan’s tools.”

    Actually, it’s not even either/or in the US, it’s “and”. Apparently Americans want everyone to tote guns, because the Constitution!, EXCEPT when it comes to kids, toy guns, and pop tarts.

  16. Uly May 21, 2015 at 4:45 pm #

    Latex, being a natural material, is biodegradable. Which means, yes, your condoms can go in your compost!

    Of course, the irony here is that many children are allergic to latex, and those biodegradable balloons could do them more harm than good.

  17. Jenny Islander May 21, 2015 at 4:47 pm #

    @Wendy W.: Yes. Set up a rope between two sawhorses and declare that everything on that side up to the edge of the woods is the Squirt Gun Battle Zone while this side is off limits for squirt guns.

  18. Daniel DuBois May 21, 2015 at 4:51 pm #

    The passage quoted about ping-pong ball sized water balloons is from the Shooting Sports Manual and is solely in reference to ammunition for sling-shots, catapults, etc. There is no prohibition against throwing water balloons that I am aware of.

    The Guide to Safe Scouting does prohibit pointing guns (real or fake) at people (real or fake). This is not a new rule, it’s been on the books for a long time. A good number of Scout leaders and apparently some conservative political bloggers just weren’t aware of it.

    I’m the biggest proponent of the Free Range movement I know, but I’m also a Cubmaster and respect national’s decision to have this rule. There’s this spectrum of safeness to dangerousness that boys could conceivably partake in, as you go through from toy guns, laser tag, water guns, marshmallow guns, rubber band guns, paint ball, sling shots, potato guns, bb guns, bottle rocket fights, and beyond. Yes, they could have tried to micromanage the rules so that some of the left side is legal and some of the right side isn’t, but the policy they came up with has the advantage of being both simple and logically consistent. People are very edgy about school shooting nowadays, and the BSA chooses to avoid any chance of being associated with one or in any way appearing to be militarizing children. Moreover, there’s really nothing to be gained by having the line in the sand drawn elsewhere. Not everything you are free to do at home needs to be something you are permitted to do at school, or church, or a Scout event.

    There are still opportunities to use and learn about archery, bb guns, and firearms in Scouting, earn merit badges, etc., you just can’t point things at people.

  19. bsolar May 21, 2015 at 5:44 pm #

    @Sneeje: “The issue is whether shooting squirt guns at one another is “kind” (one of the 12 tenets of the Scout Law). Nevermind that any game that includes adverse behavior would probably not be considered “kind”.”

    This would basically ban any contact sport, including soccer, baseball, basket and whatever, which is definitely not the case. About martial arts I’m sure judo is definitely allowed.

    The fundamental issue is that kindness has a lot to do with your *intent*: there is a difference between slamming someone to the ground because you are a bully and slamming someone to the ground because you are practicing judo. The former should be definitely banned, but the latter definitely allowed.

  20. Meg May 21, 2015 at 6:13 pm #

    My kids are in Boy Scouts.

    They get to learn how to use real knives and real guns, for that matter.
    Plus, they go on hikes, cook for adults, and hang out in the wilderness.

    Yeah, it’s pretty uncool, and there are lots of rules, but in terms of organizations promoting free range activities, I’d say it’s right up there.

    This one feels like a cheap shot to me.

  21. Warren May 21, 2015 at 6:54 pm #

    So what you are saying is the BSA are cowards, and caving into the paranoid parents, at the expense of the kids.

  22. Bill Kidder May 21, 2015 at 9:37 pm #

    “Little known fact”: Robert Baden-Powell conceived the Boy Scout operation after seeing
    how soft the British boys were in the Boer War of 1899-1902. Concerned that modern
    life wasn’t providing the King and country with boys that would make good soldiers and
    maintain the empire, he formed an organization that would toughen them up.

    He’s no doubt rolling in his grave while waiting for the next post on

  23. Emily May 21, 2015 at 10:20 pm #

    I agree with both Warren and Walter. I think it’s prudent to tell kids not to point REALISTIC-LOOKING guns at others; however, a Nerf gun or a Super Soaker doesn’t look like a gun; it looks like a fluorescent blob of plastic. Laser tag is obviously a game of pretend play as well, which is quite fun even for adults. As for paintball, I’m not a fan of that game, because it leaves bruises, but I wouldn’t stop other people from playing it–if I was a Scout leader (it’s co-ed here in Canada), and my Scouts wanted to play paintball, I’d volunteer to stand off to the side and take pictures for posterity. But, all of those things are obviously just for fun, and guns that look like guns should be treated with respect. Besides, where do you draw the “gun” line? Boys will make guns out of Lego blocks, sticks, Pop-Tarts, their fingers…..the list goes on and on. “Don’t point guns at people” sounds sensible on paper, until the Zero Tolerance crowd get their hands on it, at which point we see little boys getting suspended from school over L-shaped breakfast pastries. Maybe that little boy wasn’t even trying to make a gun; maybe the L was for Lenore; sort of like the Bat Signal, and he was signalling for Lenore to come and rescue him from his helicoptered, bubble-wrapped misery.

  24. Warren May 21, 2015 at 11:50 pm #

    What difference does it make whether the toy looks real or not? A toy is a toy is a toy. When a group of kids are out playing cops and robbers or whatever, they are playing.

    Now should a 10 yr old point any toy gun at a cop in a dark alley at 2am? No. But then again, I don’t see a cop going out and blasting away at a bunch of kids in the middle of the day, playing cowboys and indians, either.

    People need to stop being paranoid about toy guns, and real guns. Neither of which has ever killed anyone.

  25. Donald May 21, 2015 at 11:50 pm #

    Insurance is one of the reasons behind safety going berserk. Imagine that you are filling out a form for home owners insurance. Any additional box that you comply with on their list of addition security will give you a discount in insurance premiums.

    Imagine filling out the form:

    “Hmmmm. Do I have a guard dog? Well no but the neighbours dog barks almost non stop. I guess that would help prevent burglary. Therefore I’ll tick ‘Yes’.
    Do I have a high security door lock? Not really but my lock is tricky to open. You have to jiggle the key just right. Therefore, yes I do have a high security lock”.

    Insurance isn’t that flexible. A high security lock and a guard dog is easy to define and you wont get away with the falsification. However, defining what’s dangerous and what isn’t isn’t as straight forward. If you have a plan to continually improve safety then you qualify for a discount. It’s up to YOU to define danger. All you have to do is to document it that you’re implementing these changes.

    For example. A company owner is filling out the form.

    “Hmmm. What can I do this quarter in order to get my discount? I know! I’ll require my employees to wear safety glasses in the break room when they make themselves a cup of coffee. After all, the hot water can splash into their eyes. Another thing that I can do is to ban every employee from using the pencil sharpener unless they have gone through our new (I just made up) pencil sharpening safety induction school.”

    Children are not the only ones that get ‘babied’ and treated as if they are stupider than the chair that they’re sitting on

  26. Lihtox May 22, 2015 at 12:02 am #

    Because a kid could mistake a real gun for a water pistol, grab it impulsively, and accidentally shoot someone?

    Or a bystander could see a kid wielding a realistic-looking water pistol and get the wrong idea?

    I agree with Emily, though: brightly colored super soakers are so obviously different from any sort of real gun, that banning them is unnecessary. I wonder if this rule may be outdated, from a time when water pistols were much more “realistic” looking.

  27. Donald May 22, 2015 at 12:18 am #

    This has nothing to do with squirt guns. The scouts must do something in order to qualify for the discount on the insurance premium. They have to do something to ‘improve safety’. Banning squirt guns will do this. It makes no difference if their has never been an accident before. This doesn’t even have to be logical. All is needed to qualify for the insurance reduction is that it’s being implemented and documented. (the scout rule book page 99)

  28. Havva May 22, 2015 at 12:25 am #

    Wow… the world needs a free range club where kids can go camping, learn to build stuff with real tools, learn to cooking with real fire and sharp blades, go out of sight of adults and just enjoying the world with out liability worries. And also be accountable for their actions.

    The statement about this rule that “The issue is whether shooting squirt guns at one another is “kind” ” is completely asinine. When it is something relatively harmless like water guns is the perfect time to teach children about respecting the willingness or unwillingness of others a to participate in an activity. What a “brilliant” plan ban everything where consent might be an issue. They can figure that out in college right?….. Sheesh, how are kids to grow up into decent humans, if we don’t let them make some relatively harmless mistakes that can be used as great object lessons in proper responsible behavior.

  29. Warren May 22, 2015 at 1:19 am #


    First of all, if a kid mistakes a real gun for a toy gun two majors things are wrong before it ever happens. You are an idiot for leaving a real gun lying around where a kid can get ahold of it. Secondly the kid must be a real freaking moron not to notice the difference. So stop being such a paranoid worst case thinker Lithox. If your kid mistakes a reall 9mm, that is metal, and weighs a helluvalot more than a plastic toy gun, you are the failure. A failure for not teaching them to keep their hands off stuff that isn’t theirs, a failure for not teaching them about guns if you are a gun owner, and a failure for not having the gun secured. Any other questions?

    Next is a passerby mistakes the toy for a real gun, then they are just as paranoid and ignorant as you. Really, how stupid must someone be to automatically assume that the the child is armed with a loaded real gun, instead of a toy? Anyone that is rational and semi intelligent is going to assume the kid is playing with a toy.

  30. Warren May 22, 2015 at 1:22 am #

    No NO No!!!!! They still have no idea about consent in college either. Check out all the stories of consensual sex while at college. It is almost to the point where you will need a signed agreement, witnesses and verified by a notary.

  31. Puzzled May 22, 2015 at 2:18 am #

    >Next is a passerby mistakes the toy for a real gun, then they are just as paranoid and ignorant as you. Really, >how stupid must someone be to automatically assume that the the child is armed with a loaded real gun, instead >of a toy? Anyone that is rational and semi intelligent is going to assume the kid is playing with a toy.

    According to this story, it would take a dismal performance on firearms recognition, a lack of emotional stability and maturity, and an inability to handle stress.

  32. Dhewco May 22, 2015 at 7:34 am #

    The whole point of water guns is the point them at people. It’s called a super soaker for a reason. They’re so fun during a hot campout. You go down the the water source, fill up, and start soaking each other down. Yes, scouting is full of other fun activities…however, at campsites that don’t have swimming areas, it’s hard to cool down after a hot day of activities.

  33. Emily May 22, 2015 at 9:15 am #

    @Warren and Lihtox–You’ve both hit the nail squarely on the head, even if Warren thinks I’m paranoid. Toy guns shouldn’t look realistic, because kids can (quite innocently) mistake real guns for toys, if they own, or are used to playing with, realistic-looking toy guns. During my youth, these things were still available–you could walk into the dollar store, and buy a cap gun that looked similar to a real gun, even though it was lighter–and, to confuse things further, some of these cap guns were either metal, or plastic painted to look like metal. Then they started mandating that those cap guns be clearly marked with a coloured plastic band right on the tip of the barrel–usually fluorescent orange. Then, toy manufacturers started moving towards making the entire toy gun a fluorescent colour, and away from making realistic-looking toy guns at all, so that there’d be no confusion, for kids or bystanders. I think this is a fair enough compromise–the kids can still have their pretend playtime with cap guns, or cool off with a water gun fight, but it’s clearly established that it’s pretend violence (which is developmentally normal and healthy for a lot of kids), and not real.

    Yes, adults should give their kids the “gun safety” talk, and the “don’t touch things that aren’t yours” talk, and yes, adults who don’t secure their (real) guns are being dangerous and irresponsible, but what “should” happen, doesn’t always happen. So, if making toy guns look obviously fake, prevents little Jimmy from picking up his father’s real gun, mistaking it for his own cap gun, and shooting another person with it, then I think that that’s a better compromise than banning toy guns altogether. As for the “passerby mistaking a toy gun for a real gun” scenario, let’s say that that happens, and let’s say that the passerby calls the police. Police arrive, and ascertain that the gun was fake, but I’m not sure they’d just let the matter drop at that point. If parents are getting arrested, or reported to CPS or the regional equivalent, for allowing kids to play in the park without an adult, walk to school and other nearby places without an adult, or even play in their own yards without an adult, I have a feeling that they’d get in trouble for allowing their kids to engage in perceived violent behaviour with realistic-looking weapons, even if said weapons weren’t actually real. Yes, it’s wrong, but if I had a child, I’d rather buy him or her a Day-Glo toy gun to play with, than buy a realistic one and risk going through all that hassle.

  34. Dhewco May 22, 2015 at 9:24 am #

    I have to agree with the last point. While the realistic toys are ‘cooler’, if kids will make pastry toy guns, they can by golly use the bright colored ones. One of my favorite toys as a kid was a blue toy gun that shot a little arrow with a suction gun tip. This was in the late 70’s, early 80’s. I kept the thing as a keepsake for twenty years before losing it in a move.

    My real problem is this ‘pointing at’ controversy. Toy guns are made to point at each other. Cowboys can’t defeat the indians and the Allies can’t defeat the nazis…or whatever the kids are doing these days…if you’re not pointing at each other. (Before you suggest an imaginary enemy target, that’s not nearly as much fun as pretending one of your friends is the bad guy.)

  35. Donna May 22, 2015 at 9:37 am #


    There are, in fact, very real looking toy guns. The only difference is a orange tip that kids often intentionally break off. You can’t tell thr difference from a distance. A person who is unfamiliar with guns might not be able to tell the difference holding it.

    That said, while I’ve seen many BB guns that could easily be mistaken for real (they come up in criminal cases all the time), a water gun that close would be most unusual. Most of them seem to be brightly colored.

  36. Warren May 22, 2015 at 10:16 am #

    Oh for crying out loud. Kids do not want to play cowboys and indians with neon coloured toy guns. They want toys that look like Colts, Winchesters, Peacemakers and the like. They don’t want dayglo toy guns to play cops and robbers, they want Dirty Harry’s Magnum, Sigs like they use in NCIS and the like. Same for war games and such.

    Emily, you are no different than the zero tolerance people. Because some aholes don’t secure their guns, you will limit the entire populations choices and options. The whole “if it saves just one child………….”

    If everyone automatically assumes a kid in a park is waving a real gun and not a toy gun, then it is the adults that have the problem, not the kids. If the old bitty down the road is that freaking paranoid, that she calls the police on kids with toy guns, time to put the old witch in a home for her own good. Adults have to grow the hell up.

  37. Emily May 22, 2015 at 10:42 am #

    Warren, yes. You’re exactly right; some adults DO have to grow up, but it’s not happening, so in the meantime, we have fluorescent toy guns. I don’t think I’m “worst-first” or “Zero Tolerance” on this–“worst-first” or “Zero Tolerance” would be “ban all real guns, toy guns, and items that can be shaped into guns, and criminalize all children who make pretend guns with their fingers, draw pictures of guns, say the word ‘gun,’ or even think about guns.” That’s overkill (no pun intended), and it sets up a lot of children (especially little boys) for failure right from the get-go. I was never a little boy, so I don’t have any experience of childhood from a male perspective, but I’ve seen kids quite happily playing with Nerf guns and Super Soakers and other similar toy guns that look more like toys than guns. I think they’d rather play with those than have no toy guns at all, and I think a lot of kids use their imaginations to pretend that their toy guns are real, and they just willingly suspend their disbelief for the duration of the game. Even if they can’t exactly articulate that thought, it’s just understood that, for the duration of the game, the Day-Glo plastic guns are “real” for whatever the scenario at hand.

    Besides, a realistic police gun, or cowboy gun, or space blaster gun, or what have you, can only be that specific kind of gun. A generic-looking toy gun that doesn’t look like a gun, can be used as whatever kind of gun the game calls for–in other words, the less the toy does, the more the kid does. One more thing–even if realistic-looking toy guns can’t easily be purchased anymore (although I’m sure there are some floating around on eBay or whatever), it’s still possible to buy a fluorescent-coloured toy gun and a can of black spray paint, and paint the gun black. I think it’d be safe for you to do that for your kids (or let them do it themselves), because you secure your real guns, and teach your kids about gun safety, which is a sensible thing to do, that unfortunately, not all gun owners do–and, chances are, people who don’t teach their kids about gun safety, probably wouldn’t be bothered to spray-paint toy guns black to make them look more realistic, or scour the Internet for realistic-looking toy guns either. As for me, I grew up in a house without real guns, and toy guns were strictly forbidden as well, but they became sort of a “forbidden fruit” for me and my brother. So, we got our hands on them anyway, borrowing them from friends and buying them from dollar stores in secret, so really, the toy gun ban in our house just encouraged secretive behaviour. So, I never said I wanted to ban toy guns altogether, but I do think there’s something to be said for clearly establishing “This is a toy gun. This is a real gun. Never mix them up.”

  38. Tim May 22, 2015 at 11:26 am #

    When I was in Boy Scouts we were much too busy camping, canoeing, and hiking to play around with squirt guns or water balloons.

  39. Warren May 22, 2015 at 11:31 am #


    You are right, you were never a little boy, nor are you raising one either apparently.

    You thoughts and ideas are BS! You want to limit what every kid can own or do, because of a few morons. That is exactly like zero tolerance rules.

    Why in the hell should my future grandkids have to play with dorky neon plastic toys because some redneck moron let his kid get ahold of his sidearm?

    If the morons of the world want to kill each other off, I really don’t give a rat’s ass. But it has nothing to do with me or my family, so do not put us in the same category as those idiots.

  40. Papilio May 22, 2015 at 11:34 am #

    Wow. If there’s ONE type of ammo I’m all for shooting at other people, it’s water. W a t e r. H2O.
    Now if the kiddies were shooting gasoline on smokers I could perhaps see the point, but this is nonsense. There are all kinds of toy guns illegal here (like BB guns!) while legal in the USA, but water guns are no problem whatsoever. Neither are L-shaped pastries or other obviously fake, gun-resembling items. (In 7th grade, we pretended shooting each other with full-automatic……… Wait for it….. ballpoints. Click-click-click-click-click!)

    So! Re real looking toy guns: yep, illegal here, because people could mistake them for real, especially in the dark or some (other) stressful situation. Who says only children would ever hold toy guns?
    Certainly teens still like shooting at each other with toy guns while sadly enough teens also sometimes wield real guns, and young black teens are often mistaken for older teens, etc etc etc.
    We already know the police might think a toy gun is real and shoot the kid holding it, that’s already happened. Sure, you might say the adults have a problem, but they’re not the one who got killed.
    All in all, I don’t think the downsides of having to play cops-and-robbers with neoncolored toy guns are as big as the upsides of avoiding these kinds of confusion.

    @Emily: “…L-shaped breakfast pastries. Maybe that little boy wasn’t even trying to make a gun; maybe the L was for Lenore…”
    I prefer to take it the other way around and think Lenore is signing every post with ‘L’ to scare off the idiots 😀

  41. Mark Roulo May 22, 2015 at 11:41 am #

    “If everyone automatically assumes a kid in a park is waving a real gun and not a toy gun, then it is the adults that have the problem, not the kids.”

    Actually, it *IS* the kids who have the problem if the kids are the ones getting killed by the police.

    We seem to lose about one kid per year to a police shooting where the kid had what the police thought was a gun, but turned out not to be.

    Digging on Google, I get this list (there may be more):

        2012: Jaime Gonzalez, Brownsville TX
        2013: Andy Lopez, Santa Rosa CA (toy/replica AK-47)
        2014: Tamir Rice, Cleveland OH
        2014: John Crawford, Beavercreek OH (22 year old in Wal-Mart with assault rifle-ish looking BB gun)
        2015: Jamar Nicholson, Los Angeles CA (shot, but survived)

    Whether this is an acceptable number compared to the fun/freedom of having toy guns that look realistic is a value judgement. I don’t expect this number to change much, though, because the police officers want to go home alive. We can ask for “better training,” but I don’t think that’s going to matter much either … because the police officers want to go home alive.

  42. lollipoplover May 22, 2015 at 1:07 pm #

    “When I was in Boy Scouts we were much too busy camping, canoeing, and hiking to play around with squirt guns or water balloons.”

    This is it. Right there.

    Scouting has evolved into a bureaucratic nightmare where every activity is so regulated and controlled by adults and insurance companies in the name of *safety* that it no longer resembles actual scouting.

    Also, we are water balloon fight lovers here (mostly in our cult-de-sac where it’s easy cleanup), but the trash from them is terrible if not picked up, especially in the green spaces we need to protect. Birds and other wildlife don’t need to be eating balloon pieces, they are up against enough man-made challenges without adding liter to the mix. But my kids live for water balloon fights. We’ve had some doozies here and they always have one on Memorial Day. It’s legendary. There’s something about kids giggling and trying to blow up balloons at the hose that just screams summer.
    And no goggles.

  43. dmg May 22, 2015 at 1:44 pm #

    I like the idea of Biodegradable water balloons. My son plays with them at the park and I remind him to pick up the pieces at the playground,(he doesn’t always listen) one to keep the park clean and two, so a bird or other animal doesn’t eat it. fill up only to the size of a ping pong ball, what fun is that! The squirt gun rule is just plain stupid.

  44. Dee May 22, 2015 at 1:50 pm #

    I think it’s important to recognize that the Boy Scouts aren’t saying that boys should not use water guns. It’s only saying what should happen at a sanctioned event. Honestly, this has never been an issue for us b/c we’ve never had a water gun event at scouts. There are too many other things that they do and have to do to earn rank.

    There are no badges for martial arts because that’s considered a form of fighting. While they teach archery, BB shooting, and riflery, it’s not done at/against one another. Same concept. While I was sad my son’s Kung Fu would not earn him a badge, I respect the fact that they don’t approve of fighting of any kind.

  45. Emily May 22, 2015 at 1:58 pm #

    Warren, you’re right; I was never a little boy, and I’m not raising a child of either gender, but don’t you think fluorescent-coloured toy guns are better than nothing at all? At least this gives kids (not just boys; some girls like to play with toy guns too), a chance to act out those fantasies, whereas banning toy guns altogether wouldn’t do that. If you really want a realistic toy gun, you can easily colour a neon gun black, or purchase a realistic-looking toy gun online. A quick Amazon search led me to a whole page of options:

    Anyway, even if obviously fake, fluorescent guns are the only option in brick-and-mortar stores, I’ve never met a kid who’s been too bothered about playing with those. On a hot summer day, most kids would rather have a water fight with neon Super Soakers, than not have a water fight at all. In fact, most kids would probably choose a Super Soaker over a water gun that looks like a real gun, because Super Soakers hold more water. During the water fights of my youth, which usually included me, my brother, and whatever friends were over at the time, our choice of weapons usually consisted of empty spray starch bottles (which could shoot a pretty good stream of water), water squirters that didn’t look like guns (we had some that looked like sea animals, and some others that were designed to be hidden in the user’s hand), and the garden hose. The weapon of choice was always the garden hose, because it was much more powerful than even the biggest Super Soaker on the market. A garden hose doesn’t look like a gun, but that’s okay, because a water fight isn’t really about violence; it’s about cooling off in a fun way. As for other kinds of gun play, like I said, I’d rather have obviously fake toy guns, than have realistic guns, and the resulting confusion leading to scenarios like Papilio and Mark Ruolo described, with police officers shooting kids playing with toy guns because they think they’re real, and kids picking up and shooting real guns because they think they’re toys. This isn’t always “morons killing off the other morons,” it’s “people making honest, innocent mistakes that can cost lives.” I think the Scouts should be allowed to have their Super Soaker fights, and laser tag and paintball excursions if they wish, which is the issue at hand in this thread. I think there’s some middle ground between “no toy guns, imaginary gun play, or L-shaped Pop-Tarts, ever,” and “continue making realistic toy guns even if it’s led to people getting killed.” I think the Scouts have leaned too far towards the “overly cautious” extreme, but I don’t think it’s awful that most of the available toy guns don’t look like guns–that way, kids still get to play, but there’s no confusion as to whether their toy guns are indeed toys, or not.

  46. Warren May 22, 2015 at 2:21 pm #

    Oh Emily drop the Disneyland fantasy mentality.

    Ok back up your claims. How many kids have picked up a real gun, and killed themselves or someone else, because they thought it was a toy?

    And if kids are getting their hands on their parents loaded weapons, then yes it is morons killing off their own bloodline and the world is probably better off without that gene pool continuing.

    And our son and his friends did not want super soakers. They wanted and got AK47 replicas, M16 replicas, Browning and Beretta replicas.

    And if a cop pulls up to a park, and shoots a kid playing cops and robbers with his friends, then that cop needs to be put down for sheer stupidity.

    Emily one of these days you are going to have to temper your Pollyanna way of looking at things with a heavy dose of reality.

  47. Jessica May 22, 2015 at 4:28 pm #

    Would a ping-pong sized water balloon even break on impact? My goal in filling water balloons is to fill them just to their limit, thus ensuring they break when their target is hit or if you miss it hits and breaks near them so they still get wet. And do these people really think these boys are so stupid that they can’t differentiate between shooting a friend with a squirt gun and shooting them with a semi-automatic pistol? If they can’t figure that out, I hope you’re still watching them constantly cuz they’re probably still trying to figure out if those rocks on the ground are food.

  48. hineata May 22, 2015 at 4:51 pm #

    @Warren – outside of the US, we can probably play with pretty much what sort of toy guns we like/can get hold of. Inside the US, particularly for brown/black kids, replica guns have led to death by the authorities, let alone anyone else.

    My daughter had me watching a fascinating documentary yesterday called Kids With Guns. US based of course, and all White. After I rewired my jaw to the rest of my skull, I read some of the comments. There were the usual ones about God, country, the 2nd Amendment and protecting your family from the Evil Guvment. My favourite though was from one overseas commenter who noted that she protects her family by living outside of the US. 🙂

    So we can do pretty much what we like, but you can hardly say the same to US parents.

  49. Warren May 22, 2015 at 5:02 pm #


    So in other words Americans are just insane?

    Would I understand a cop accidently shooting someone with a toy gun in an alley at 2am? Yes.

    Would I understand a cop accidently shooting someone with a toy gun in a park at 2pm? No.

    But then again I can think for myself, and do not let the rest of the world’s paranoia get the best of me. As George Carlin said about kids in the states, “The kids are fine, it is the adults that are fu–ed.”

  50. hineata May 22, 2015 at 5:11 pm #

    Yes, yes, yes! The trouble is, though, that after an adult / cop puts a bullet through a kid’s brain, the kid is also f*ed….

  51. bsolar May 22, 2015 at 7:41 pm #

    @Dee, there *are* permitted martial arts, e.g. judo. Also, according to the reason some martial arts are not permitted has nothing to do with lack of approval of the values (caps and emphasis mine):

    “Someone wrote us, stating, “The study of Karate involves physical exercise, learning, focus, commitment and dedication. These programs teach discipline and respect, and the use of common sense before self-defense.”, and we agree completely that these are very valid comments. However, *MOST COUNCILS DO NOT CARRY ENOUGH INSURANCE* to cover the injuries which could be sustained accidentally or on purpose through such activities, and Boy Scout Councils, and even more importantly, individual units like Cub Scout Packs and Boy Scout Troops, do not maintain or stock the appropriate padding and safety gear necessary to carry out those sports safely.”

  52. Puzzled May 22, 2015 at 10:08 pm #

    There are some measures I’ve never understood – less because I thought they were overreactive, and more because, well, I don’t see how they’re supposed to work. Fluorescent toy guns is an example, as is the orange tip. It’s supposed to signal to the cop “don’t shoot, it’s a toy” right? But why can’t someone paint a real gun fluorescent, or put an orange tip on it? Clearly they can – so why is the cop, who would presumably react to a realistic gun, as in the case of Tamir Rice, by shooting first and asking questions later (which they shouldn’t do) going to not shoot someone with a fake looking gun, if a real gun can be painted the same way?

    And, honestly, it sounds a heck of a lot like coddling – we can’t expect you public servants to exercise any common sense or restraint (even though you’ll tell us all day how dangerous your job is) and not shoot a kid playing cops and robbers, so we’ll make the whole industry cater to your special fears and needs.

    This coming, by the way, from someone who intensely dislikes seeing kids shoot each other with Airsoft guns – I just don’t watch, is all.

  53. Reader May 22, 2015 at 10:59 pm #

    Biodegradable balloons sound like a good idea – surely the only REAL issue with balloon fights is the environmental one – but a water balloon filled to the size of a ping pong ball isn’t going to actually burst when it hits its target… which IS the point, right? Or would the resemblance to real bombs then be too traumatising for kids?

  54. Lihtox May 22, 2015 at 11:35 pm #

    @Warren, you do like the ad hominem attack, don’t you? You asked what the difference was between a brightly colored super soaker and a more realistic looking gun. I explained the difference. Never said I supported the policy. I do, however, like to look for the reasons behind people’s actions. I can understand where a “no realistic guns” policy comes from, though I don’t know if I would implement one myself…probably depends on the circumstances. But I don’t understand a “no super soakers” policy at all.

    As for people accidentally shooting themselves, kids getting a hold of guns and playing with them, etc…it happens all the bloody time.

  55. Warren May 23, 2015 at 1:32 am #


    Yeah kids play with guns all the time. For no other reason than the owners of the guns are complete morons, that should never have been given a weapon in the first place.

    But I guarantee you that the kids are not mistaking the real gun for toys. They damn well know they are playing with a real gun.

    And I have no problem with attacking anyone at anytime should they deserve it. Thanks for playing.

  56. Tim May 23, 2015 at 2:00 am #


    This is the problem with lumping all Americans into a view on anything. We’re much too diverse a nation to be absolute on an issue.

  57. Donna May 23, 2015 at 4:16 am #


    Most of the kids who accidently shoot themselves or others upon finding a real gun are very young. Are you seriously saying that a 5 year old certainly knows a real gun from a fake gun, intended to murder his playmates and should go to prison? I’m not saying that this is a reason to ban realistic toy guns, just saying that the idea that preschoolers are intentionally commiting murder is ridiculous.

    It is very easy for others on the other side of the gun to mistake them as well. Maybe it is you that needs to come out of pollyanna world. Cops are not reacting to toy guns the way they are because all kids innocently play cops and robbers. In many places, a cop rolling up on a near teen or teen with a gun is more likely to be real than not. And those with the fake ones are not all out playing cops and robbers. Kids use these replica toy guns for nefarious purposes all the time – from shooting out school bus windows to shooting their classmates (still aggravated assault even if just BBs) to armed robbery (as long as the other person believed it to be a real gun, it is armed robbery). I’ve had 4 cases in juvenile court involving these guns in the last couple months alone. Everywhere isn’t Mayberry.

    These replica guns are fairly new. They didn’t exist in my childhood. All the guns we happily played with were obviously fake. Not all were brightly colored water guns, but you’d never mistake them for real. Not sure why you insist that this generation can only be happy with realistic toy guns. Nor is that remotely universal since I know plenty of boys who want super soakers over relica toy guns that don’t shoot water.

  58. bsolar May 23, 2015 at 5:50 am #

    @Donna, toy guns similar to real guns are definitely not new. One of the most popular, the Red Ryder BB Gun is being produced since 1938 and it definitely looks like a (small) real gun. You can find a lot of infos on the subject here: with some interesting factoids…

    “Mattel also came up with a “Dick Tracy Water Jet Gun” that was a miniature replica of a police pump action shotgun that fired caps when you pulled the trigger and squirted water when you pumped the slide. When the Dick Tracy craze faded the same two weapons were reissued in military camouflage as Green Beret “Guerrilla Fighter” weapons. ”

    On top of that, the whole point is kinda moot since nowadays you can craft a gun capable to kill with a 3D-printer:

    So it’s only a matter of time before someone gets killed by a bright plastic gun. Then police officers will feel perfectly entitled to mow you down if you happen to hold a banana squirt gun since after all you never know…

  59. Warren May 23, 2015 at 10:00 am #


    Just where did I ever say that kids were commiting murder? I just said that they were not picking up their parent’s sidearms thinking that they are toy guns, by mistake. They know they are picking up mommy or daddy’s gun, and they are going to play with that. Not because they think it is a toy, but because the child’s moron parents are just that morons.

    Replica toy guns are not new by any stretch. I had a toy gun that looked like a Tommy Gun, ala Al Capone. There were all sorts of real looking toy guns modelled after mostly war time weapons including grenades. Now technology has come along way, and the toys look better than ever.

    I also never said that this generation would ONLY be happy with replica type toy guns. I did say they should be allowed to have them should they wish, and not be restricted because of criminals and redneck inbred morons that do not have gun safety common sense.

    I have also stated that if a cop pulls up to a PARK during the DAY, it should not be assumed that 10 yr old is carrying a real gun. As opposed to 2am in an ALLEY, which would require more caution on the cop’s part.

    Or we could go to the tired old routine of “If it saves just one child, then it is worth it.”.

    Oh and to Mark, your example of a 22 yr old…………………..22 yr olds are not kids. 22 yr olds are adults, you idiot.

  60. Puzzled May 23, 2015 at 11:31 am #

    Donna – I understand that officers want to go home after their shift (but you can’t have it both ways: you can’t say you will prioritize your safety above all else and declare your entire profession to be heroes; also, police officer is quite far from the more dangerous professions, but we don’t find roofers needing to kill anyone to protect themselves) but there’s more than one way to do that. I’m not a cop, but I am a paramedic and know a little something about rolling up on emergency scenes. If you find yourself in the position the cops in the Tamir Rice incident were in, then it’s likely that the best action is to shoot. But the point is, you don’t need to be in that position. You don’t need to roll up right on top of a reported child with a gun. Maybe they pulled up that way because the caller said it’s probably not a real gun – but then their subsequent actions cease to make sense. You pull up at a distance, in a way that you can exit and take cover behind your car and give instructions.

    Similarly, there was the shooting incident outside the liquor store in St. Louis right after Michael Brown. They had a report of a theft with a knife – and stopped the car right next to the guy, who was dead 15 seconds later. Once you’re in that position, understandable – but you can avoid it.

    And, again, look at the history of the cop in the Tamir Rice case. Should he have been on active duty?

  61. Russ May 24, 2015 at 7:27 am #

    Your article misrepresents the actual BSA RULES. You’ve twisted it so that you could rail against it to support your own agenda. I appreciate your free-range ideas…aren’t there enough examples to support your cause without fabricating evidence?

    LISTEN…the water gun rule is in a list of items that fire PROJECTILES…are there water guns that fire projectiles using water pressure? Yes. Okay, don’t shoot them at people and use eye protection. The water balloon rule is listed in the rules for catapults and launchers. These rules aren’t about what you can’t do at camp…These rules are in the SHOOTING SPORTS MANUAL.

    I was not a scout but my father (also not a scout) taught me NEVER point any gun – toy or otherwise – at anyone. The only exception was when playing with others with toy guns …seems contradictory at first glance…but it teaches don’t point a gun at ANYONE, unless they point one at you.

  62. bsolar May 24, 2015 at 2:57 pm #

    @Russ: “LISTEN…the water gun rule is in a list of items that fire PROJECTILES…are there water guns that fire projectiles using water pressure? Yes. Okay, don’t shoot them at people and use eye protection.”

    That’s not correct: a water gun shoots water. What you describe is not a water gun, it’s a dart gun (also called dart blaster or in this particular case water blaster).

    You are correct that the balloon rule is about “Catapults and Other Shooting Devices” and the rules are from the “Boy Scouts of America National Shooting Sports Manual”, but this is plain to see, given that the relevant links are available in the article.

  63. Raines May 25, 2015 at 12:39 pm #

    This is not a new rule. I have an email exchange from 2012 discussing it with the national health & safety office of the BSA. I was told “What part of fighting is kind?”

    They are now in the business of emasculating little boys. We were done with them after this ridiculous policy. We live in Texas. In the summer, water gun fights were a highlight for Twilight Camp. It’s hot!