Ten with Ben – Episode 7: Are Nerf Guns Dangerous?

I wanted to take a couple minutes of your time and talk to you about Nerf guns. I want to talk to you about some of my thoughts as a father of a six-year-old son.

Hi, I’m Attorney Ben Schwartz,

Today we are going to answer a question from someone in the community who wrote in and asked me, “do you think, as an attorney and well-known lover of guns and weapons, do you think it is a wise idea to get Nerf guns for my son?” I wanted to take a couple minutes of your time and talk to you about Nerf guns. I want to talk to you about some of my thoughts as a father of a six-year-old son. Right now as we are videotaping this, he just turned 6 at the end of last month and he loves Nerf guns. He loves all guns, takes right after his father. I got some thoughts on this because my son is very social. He goes to other kids houses, he has other kids over to our house and I see how they play. I remember being a boy, I remember how I played and how my friends played. We were constantly having battles and wars with one another. But at the same time, I am a personal injury lawyer and I know the realities of the world that we live in.

I want to give you a couple of my thoughts that are sort of mixed together and you can figure out how to take this and what to do next with it.

First off, I do not see things as being catastrophic and terrible. I see things as being teachable moments. To me, when there is something going wrong or there is danger, I do not see it as something to run and hide from. I see it as a teachable moment. When my son has his Nerf gun, he knows the rules of gun safety. He knows that the gun is always loaded. Even when it is not loaded, you treat it like it is always loaded. He knows that you keep your finger off the trigger until you are ready to shoot. He knows that you do not point the gun at anything that you do not want to shoot at and kill. If I ask him, “Hey Charlie, tell me the rules of gun safety, he will be able to tell me. Even though he is six – I have drilled it into him. He knows the rules of gun safety and he practices the rules of gun safety even when it is not a glock, dad’s revolver, or dad’s rifle and he has shot all of those things. Even when it is just a Nerf gun, he knows in my house to practice the rules of gun safety.

The question is, are Nerf guns dangerous? I have to say, yeah…I think Nerf guns are dangerous. They fire foam darts and I’m going to show you, this is a Nerf Mega Big Shot – single shot pistol. This is another one we just picked up from the local drug store, it is a Nerf N-Strike Elite Jolt. You can see the bullets that this shoots is the small bullets. The bullets that the mega gun shoot are the larger bullets and they have a collapsible rubber tip on it. It is relatively soft; not as soft as the foam. We are talking about a foam dart with a rubber tip. I do not know the feet per second (fps), the muzzle velocity this shoots. If you load a bullet, you cock it and shoot it, it comes out quick. It is not something that I want hitting my eye – hitting my child’s eye, or hitting my kids’ friends eyes. It is something that I think could cause some significant damage and in fact if you Google eye injuries from Nerf guns, you are going to find a bunch of articles on the internet about how Nerf guns actually do cause eye injuries. Specifically, I found a BBC News article, the article is titled, Nerf guns can lead to serious eye injuries, doctors warn. This was published on September 19, 2017. I printed it out for myself, but essentially it is reporting about an article in the British medical journal where eye doctors in a hospital in England file case reports of people who had sustained injuries to their eyes as a result of being struck in the eye with Nerf guns. Nerf guns shooting you in the eye can cause a bunch of different types of things. You can have an abrasion on your cornea. It could cause your retina to detach. It could cause blood and swelling inside the eye. It could cause you to lose your vision. It could cause you to have blurry vision. There are all kinds of problems that you could have as a result of being shot at close range in the eye by one of these Nerf guns.

I think that these things, even though they are toys, they can be relatively dangerous. I think that you should handle them safely. As I said, I’m not just a father, I’m a personal injury lawyer. I have people that contact my office all the time and I want to say, I am not doing this video because I am fishing for people to contact me about Nerf gun injuries. I am doing this video because I want people to understand what they are dealing with when your kids are asking you, can I bring a Nerf gun home? Can I have a Nerf gun for my birthday? Can I get one for Christmas? I want you to know what your kid is asking for and have some thoughts and some precautions about how to deal with this toy so that kids do not get injured and so that nothing bad happens.

When I think about bad things that could happen, I think about it as a teachable moment. If you are watching this video, you are  now the recipient of my teachable moment. I guess my concern as a personal injury lawyer is, if you are buying a Nerf gun for your daughter or your son, what is going to happen is, when your daughter or your son’s friends come over, they are going to want to have a Nerf gun war and they are going to run around the house shooting and yelling at each other. That is how kids are. That is how adults are sometimes too. Knowing that is the most likely thing that is going to happen, they are not going to organize and sit there and knock over empty cardboard boxes or empty coke cans for target practice. They are going to have a Nerf gun war. That is what they want to do. Knowing that, you need to think this through before you buy the gun so you are not only talking about and drilling the rules of gun safety to your child, you are also instituting some rules in the house for Nerf gun wars like, don’t have Nerf gun wars. Don’t shoot the Nerf gun at your friend’s. If your friends come over maybe we don’t get the Nerf guns out. Maybe we keep them in a secured location and we only take them out when your child is there shooting the gun not with his friends. You cannot supervise his friends as closely and as well as you supervise your own child.

Maybe you have a rule in your house that keeps those guns locked away? Maybe you have a rule in your house that the guns only come out and get played with under direct supervision by an adult? Maybe you have rules in your house that there is no Nerf gun wars. These are things that are worth considering. I think they are worth considering, because what is going to happen if a child, one of your kids friends, comes to your house and you don’t supervise them? You let them go to the basement or in the backyard and have a Nerf gun war. Then, your child’s friend comes crying in the house because your kid shot him in the eye. Well that kid’s going to get medical attention and then his parents were going to come somewhere, like a law firm and consult with a personal injury lawyer and say you were not supervising the Nerf gun war. You gave the dangerous guns to the children and sent them to the basement, or sent them out to the yard, to have an unsupervised battle. It is foreseeable that their child could be shot in the eye and you let it happen and therefor you negligently caused injury to their child and you end up getting sued.

Now a lot of these situations are situations where a parent just needs to get the kids medical treatment covered, but they’ve got $15,000 in medical bills and they cannot afford to pay out-of-pocket. Or their health insurance has paid it, but they had a $3,000 deductible and they do not have the $3,000 to pay towards the kids medical treatment. What they are looking for is your homeowners insurance to step up to the plate. Your homeowners insurance is going to say, go pound sand, we are not paying for anything. Then that parent is going to have to hire a lawyer and file a lawsuit against you to try and get their kids medical expenses covered. So I think, if you do not institute rules for handling these situations you are asking for trouble.

Folks, I’m Attorney Ben Schwartz, this has been a Ten with Ben episode. I hope and I pray that has given you something to really think about and something to really consider. I think it is worth taking the time to think it through, to have a discussion, to institute some rules and procedures in your home so nothing bad happens as a result of these toys. They are fun toys to play with. It is a blast to play with these, but at the same time you need to do it in a responsible manner and you need to teach your children to be responsible as well. I’m Ben Schwartz, if you have questions for me, send me an email below.

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