Toy guns were an integral part of a lot of our childhoods. Not just did some of us (read: me) learn gun safety through handling toy guys, a lot of us also used them in a more traditional way. My childhood involved repelling both Russian and alien invasions with my toy gun, as well as “battling” my friends. It was all great fun and absolutely none of us became a mass murderer.
Yet now a so-called consumer’s group is demanding that Hasbro stop manufacturing certain kinds of Nerf guns.
A consumer group in New York has asked toy maker Hasbro to stop selling “assault style” weapons — that fire foam Nerf darts.
The Empire State Consumer Project has written a letter to the Hasbro board of directors, saying “as the holidays approach, we are reminded of our mission to protect the safety of children.”
“As we watch holiday toy commercials, we see the Nerf Ultra One and other extreme Nerf machine guns for children and are reminded of mass shootings that have devastated American children and families for decades now. In these times, the TV ad for this product plays like a Saturday Night Live parody, except that it is not at all funny,” said the Dec. 3 letter.
That’s all fine and good except for the fact that emotionally stable people don’t see a Nerf gun–something that looks almost nothing like a real firearm–and associates it with mass shootings. Only psychologically-stunted twits looking to cultivate outrage could possibly see the commercial for a Nerf gun and thing of such things.
First, let’s address a couple of key factors here.
One, a Nerf gun are as safe as anything that fires a projectile could possibly be. They’re incredibly unlikely to hurt anyone and if they do, it’s through an odd combination of carelessness and bad luck.
Second, Nerf guns have been around for ages. Yes, they do seem to get bigger and bigger, but Nerf guns were common enough back in my childhood. Yet my youth was generall devoid of kids taking guns into their schools and shooting up the place. If Nerf guns encouraged this behavior, as is suggested by the Empire State Consumer Project, why did it take so long for students to become impacted?
The truth is that the group is nothing more than a more modern version of the groups that sprung up around the temperance movement. They’re moral scolds who seek to shame anyone who could possibly disagree with them on a topic. Hasbro has done nothing wrong and continues to do nothing wrong by designing, making, and selling these toys.
While the NY-based group may not like it, these kinds of toys are an important part of may people’s childhood. Not everyone wants to play “Vegan grocery store” or “farming collective” or whatever other lefty-inspired games these people’s children play. Some people want to pretend to be warriors, so they pick up their toy guns and wage war with the “enemy.”
The letter states:
“When your products themselves violate most of your proclaimed corporate values, something is very wrong. How does promoting play with huge automatic weapons create joy, creativity and connection around the world, and across generations, and make the world a better place for children? How do these weapon products use your business as a force for good? Who would this child be shooting with his cache of assault weapons?”
What that tells me, though, is that they don’t understand that people derive joy from different things, or that creativity comes in many forms, or that maybe Nerf guns are something parents and kids can play together, outside where the real world actually is. Frankly, Nerf guns are the very epitome of Hasbro’s corporate values, but only if you don’t view them from such a myopic viewpoint.
My hope is that Hasbro tells these twits to go pound sand and then goes out to build an even bigger Nerf gun.
Just on principle.