Student Body President Jackie Wheeler said she grew up with Nerf guns as a child and that she believes they should be on campus in spite of the university’s implied ban against Nerf weapons.
She said that she and other facilitators used water guns at Frog Camp Challenge A and saw that play weapons similar to Nerf guns were “perfectly fine and fun.”
“Bringing Nerf guns on campus [for activities similar to Frog Camp] could enhance campus life,” Wheeler said.
TCU’s Code of Student Conduct’s clause on weapons and dangerous devices currently bans the “use, storage or possession of weapons or dangerous devices including, but not limited to…air powered guns.” Nerf guns are air powered rifles.
The ban did not prevent sophomore business major Russell Henderson from purchasing a Nerf gun Feb. 3 to occupy him during the snowy six-day weekend.
At that time, however, Henderson said he was unaware of the university’s implied ban on Nerf guns.
“We were getting cabin fever because of all the ice days, and we were just bored,” Henderson said. “[We] decided we were just going to shoot Nerf guns at each other.”
Now that Henderson is aware of the ban, he said he still planned to play with his Nerf gun as a way to have fun and blow off steam since no one confiscated it.
Sophomore theatre major Tyler Krieg said that while he wanted to have fun during the recent snow days, he didn’t play with his guns during the snowfall around campus because the university’s ban on weapons deterred him.
Although Krieg said he respected the university’s rule, he said he disagreed with the university’s stance on Nerf guns.
“I think that it’s kind of a stupid rule because Nerf guns can’t harm anyone unless you hit them, you know, with the gun,” he said.
Krieg said he understood why fake knives and other weapons have become taboo but did not understand why something “childish” like a Nerf gun was prohibited by the university.
He said he saw the Nerf gun rule as a “malleable rule” that could be changed if a student proactively approached the administration to make them legal.
Wheeler said that Student Government Association’s House of Representatives was a student’s best resource to change this and other rules on campus, but she made no promises.
“There is probably a reason for this rule if TCU does have it, and so saying that we will automatically change the policy isn’t something I want to say,” Wheeler said. “We”ll gladly look into it if that”s what students want.”
Dave Cooper, the associate director of housing, said the university’s priority was to keep students safe. Any threat that infringes upon students’ safety, whether real or fake, had to be eliminated, he said. This includes requiring resident assistants and hall directors to confiscate all Nerf guns on campus.
According to an Oct. 22, 2010 KBTX news article online, Sam Houston State University was put on lockdown because of a possible gunman. The gunman was actually a student carrying a Nerf gun.
Cooper said something like this could happen at TCU. He said the combination of Nerf guns and nighttime creates too much guesswork for TCU Police, RAs and other students who may see the weapon.
“I think anytime that the safety and security of our campus is compromised or the integrity of it is compromised, then [a lockdown] is an option that we have,” Cooper said.
Krieg said he did not think that what happened at Sam Houston State University could happen at TCU because Nerf guns are usually made in bright yellow and orange colors.
“I think [Nerf guns] could bring people together more than separate them,” Krieg said. He said he envisioned programs in the commons and around residence halls involving Nerf guns.
Spencer Albright, a junior psychology major and an RA for King and Wright Halls, agreed with Krieg. Albright said incorporating Nerf guns into campus and hall programs could help spark enthusiasm for on-campus events.
He also said he felt that confiscating all Nerf guns was a harsh punishment. He said he thought they should be allowed anywhere on campus anytime.
“It’s not a real weapon,” Albright said. “It’s just a toy to have fun.”