MORE: Middletown police issue ‘Nerf wars’ warning
Waynesville Chief of Police Gary Copeland took to social media Tuesday in an attempt to stop the “Nerf wars” in the community.
“We have received several complaints of young adults running through neighborhoods and on the streets with firearms. A subsequent investigation revealed that they are playing Nerf war games with toy rifles and guns,” Copeland wrote on the department’s Facebook page. “Unfortunately, it is hard to identify the difference between a toy gun and a real gun, which can result in a mistaken identity of the weapon.”
He added that the public could mistake the toy gun for a real weapon and that could lead to students who are playing the game being charged with inducing panic or disorderly conduct.
“In addition, we fear the worst that an armed resident may come out to defend their property and mistake the toy as a real weapon,” Copeland stated, adding, “We are asking for assistance from the parents and young adults to refrain from these types of games and activities.”
While some agreed with Copeland as they posted comments addressing the issue, others posted that every school in the area has students who play the game every year. Some posts also indicated that kids should be allowed to have fun while playing outside.
Copeland said Tuesday night in a phone interview that his department has received at least a half-dozen complaints from residents about “kids running through their yards and jumping their fences. They’re scared by it.”
Some of the participants have scraped off the orange coloring or making the toys look more realistic, Copeland said. That makes it more likely the kids could be mistakenly shot by a property owner or police officer.
“I don’t want to see a kid get shot, or tackled or hurt, by someone who thinks it is a real gun,” Copeland said.