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An Important Message from County Attorney Choi about Nerf Wars

Dear Superintendents and Principals: 
I am reaching out to request your partnership in raising awareness among students and parents about the dangers of Nerf Wars in order to keep our teens safe. Nerf Wars or Nerf Assassins has become an increasingly popular, yet highly dangerous, activity amongst our youth. Nerf Wars involves teens forming teams and then "killing" opposing team members with nerf guns. The winning team receives a cash prize awarded from entry fees, so students are often highly motivated to compete. While these activities are not sponsored by schools, a group of parents from a high school advisory council asked to meet with me to share their concerns. I learned a lot about what is happening and am concerned that some of these activities are not only dangerous, but also illegal, and could result in serious injuries and/or prosecution. 
Sadly, last school year, two Lakeville high school students were killed in a car accident while the driver and passengers were reportedly engaged in Nerf Wars. In addition, parents have reported that teens have used cars to block other teens; jumped on top of moving vehicles; slashed tires; gotten into car accidents; crawled into homes, garages and/or on roofs without the homeowner's permission, often in the dark and in violation of curfew laws. I am seriously concerned that a homeowner, believing a burglary was in progress, could potentially shoot and/or kill such a teen. In addition, teens running around in the dark "shooting" at each other with Nerf guns that resemble real guns put themselves in danger. Further, an apparent "naked rule" incents students to remove their clothing because they are forbidden from being "killed" when naked. Given that most teens have cell phones with cameras, photos of naked teens may be circulated on social media, which is not only harmful to the teen in the photo, but illegal in many circumstances. 
As we all know, a criminal/delinquency record can have seriously negative consequences on a teen's future, impacting their ability to secure student loans, housing, employment, a driver's license and insurance coverage. Most importantly, the tragedy in Lakeville taught us that what starts as a game can turn deadly in seconds. I am concerned that if we, as adults, don't intervene and educate our students, we could face more tragedies, similar to what happened in Lakeville.
As your County Attorney, I want students and parents to be aware of these potential dangers to help keep our community safe. Please contact Jill Fedje, one of our community prosecutors, at (651) 266-3003 if you would like additional information or to have our staff attend a meeting. 
Thank you for your partnership in keeping our community safe. 
John Choi
Ramsey County Attorney