Boy Scouts Ban Squirt Guns, Refer To Them As ‘Firearms’

Derek Hunter Contributor
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You’d be hard-pressed to find a child who hasn’t — at one point or another during a long, hot summer — chased friends around with squirt guns and water balloons. For the Boy Scouts of America, that simple childhood joy is now banned.

In the new edition of the Boy Scouts of America National Shooting Sports Manual, the Boy Scouts have declared that water guns and rubber band guns are no longer for shooting at anything other than inanimate objects.

Bryan Wendell, Eagle Scout and senior editor of Boy’s Life, Scouting and Eagles’ Call magazines, posted on his official Scouting blog, “As summer — and pool weather! — lingers on the horizon, it’s a good time to remind you that BSA policies prohibit pointing simulated firearms at people.” Adding, “Yes, that includes water guns.”

Wendell explains that this decree comes from the official Scouting Handbook. “You’ll find the relevant sentence on page 99. It reads: ‘Water guns and rubber band guns must only be used to shoot at targets, and eye protection must be worn,’” he writes.

Water balloons are also under increased limitations by the Scouts. “Water balloons, meanwhile, have a size limit: ‘For water balloons, use small, biodegradable balloons, and fill them no larger than a ping pong ball.’ (Page 100),” the blog says.

You can read the Boy Scouts of America National Shooting Sports Manual in its entirety here.

Wendell explains:

If you need more explanation, see page 61 of the Guide to Safe Scouting. The key paragraph reads:

“Pointing any type of firearm or simulated firearm at any individual is unauthorized. Scout units may plan or participate in paintball, laser tag or similar events where participants shoot at targets that are neither living nor human representations.”

Why the rule? A Scouter once told me this explanation I liked quite a bit: “A Scout is kind. What part of pointing a firearm [simulated or otherwise] at someone is kind?”

True point.

The comments on the blog post were less than kind.

Dave writes:

What a load of politically correct crap. What’s the point of super-soakers if you don’t shoot them at others to get wet and cool off on a hot day? And water balloons no bigger than a ping-pong ball? Have you ever been hit by a water balloon that isn’t big enough to explode? It hurts more than one that is properly filled. This is such a load of BSA garbage!!!!

Andrea writes:

So…what’s the point? I agree with Dave. This is another attempt to make sure everyone is “ok”. Just ban them out right if this is the path you are going to take because this policy sets scouts up for failure each and every time.

Gary added:

Sometimes I just have to laugh out loud at how idiotic some things in our society have become. We can’t squirt each other with water guns because it is a “simulated” gun. I can’t believe BSA is so worried about the PC police that it has a policy like this.

Pete asked:

So does running under a sprinkler simulate artillery fire? I suppose a slip and slide invokes trench warfare. Way overboard on the rules here. Taking the fun out of the game.