The Boy Scouts of America have seen their share of controversy lately, from banning gays from joining their ranks to accidentally killing a motorcyclist due to a lack of oversight. A new controversy has erupted surrounding the use of guns and bombs. Specifically, the use of water guns and water balloon bombs. The children’s play things that have been historically used to cool off and have fun after a long day of earning badges are now deemed dangerous to Boy Scouts and have been banned, for the most part. Water guns may still be used in target practice. However, the Boy Scouts must wear protective eye gear while the squirt guns are in use. Water balloons may only be used if they are “no large than a ping pong ball.”
The Boy Scouts of America’s director of communications, Deron Smith, shared that the policy is not new, according to the Huffington Post. He stated that the use of water guns and rubber band guns are allowed, but have never been authorized to shoot at another living thing. Their use has been limited to target practice only.
“This is not a new guideline or regulation. As it always has, the BSA’s Guide to Safe Scouting allows youth members to use water guns and rubber band guns while shooting at targets but not at each other.”
The rules are listed on pages 99 and 100 of the Boy Scouts handbook, stating that “water guns and rubber band guns must only be used to shoot at targets, and eye protection must be worn.” The rule regarding water balloons states that they must be “biodegradable balloons” and that they cannot be filled to a size larger than a ping pong ball.
Bryan Wendell, an Eagle Scout and senior editor of Boy’s Life, was asked about the rule and if he thought it was fair. CBS Detroit posted his response.
“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?”
There are many that object to the policy, such as a commentor known only as Dave that shared his view on the restricted use of water balloons and squirt guns by saying, ‘what a load of politically correct crap.”
Despite the criticism, Kerrie Mitchell with the Michigan Crossroads Marketing and Communications justified the strict regulations.
“Our mission is to prepare young people for life and part of that duty is to ensure our youth become civically-minded adults. Pointing a simulated firearm at another individual is not aligned with our Scout Oath nor Scout Law.”
[Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images]