CU must allow real guns on campus two years after banning Nerf guns

The Colorado Supreme Court ruling to allow people with concealed-carry permits to possess guns on University of Colorado campuses will necessitate a major philosophical shift among CU officials. Case in point: Just over two years ago, CU Boulder expanded its weapons ban to include Nerf guns.

As we reported in the December 2009 post linked above, Nerf guns were being used in an on-campus game called Humans vs. Zombies. However, CU Boulder nixed the gadgets under the theory that cops seeing the handle of such a weapon protruding from pants or pockets might think a student was packing actual heat as opposed to a toy designed for use by children.

News about this edict spawned such widespread eye-rolling that CU-Boulder police chief Joe E. Roy wrote an op-ed in the Colorado Daily defending the policy. An excerpt:

The facts about Nerf guns on campus have been understated in the reporting of this story. In 2007, Alfred University in upstate New York underwent a two-hour lockdown after a faculty member reported a student with a weapon that turned out later to be a Nerf gun. A similar report prompted a police response at the University of Maryland last year.

Thankfully, there were no accidents with deadly consequences in either of these incidents.

Complicating all of this are two dangerous trends: one in which Nerf guns are painted black to look like assault weapons ( and another in which real guns are painted to look like colored toys (

A Humans vs. Zombies graphic.
A Humans vs. Zombies graphic.

The following May, CU eased its restrictions against Nerf guns, albeit briefly. Here's how Humans vs. Zombies organizer Scott Serafin explained the complex deal he worked out with the administration, which had initially told players they'd have to throw socks at each other rather than deploying Nerf blasters: "In a nutshell, the vice dean of the engineering center agreed that we could use the engineering center from 11 p.m. to 4 a.m. on a Saturday to Sunday during spring break. Then we got a simulated weapons permit from UCPD [the CU campus police] that allowed everyone to use Nerf Blasters inside the engineering center only from those times."

In addition, Serafin noted, "We had signage posted and had all doors but one locked, so we could control who entered and exited. It was a very controlled environment that allowed us to use the Nerf Blasters indoors."

Of course, this limit-loosening was preceded by a Colorado Court of Appeals ruling that junked the main CU gun ban -- a verdict CU appealed but the Colorado Supreme Court has now upheld. As such, the university will now have to come up with policies to deal with actual guns on campus, and not just the kind that fire projectiles tipped with foam.

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More from our Follow That Story archive: "Guns on campus: CSU faces lawsuit in wake of court tossing CU's concealed-carry ban."

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