Nerf: The gateway gun?

posted at 8:40 am on March 15, 2012 by Ed Morrissey

Cam Edwards told me about this story when I made a guest appearance on his NRA News show, and I’m still laughing about it.  Remember Michael Pfleger, the radical priest in Chicago last heard from in the 2008 campaign, defending his friend Rev. Jeremiah Wright?  The one who hung out with Barack Obama for decades, thinks that “America is the greatest sin against God,” and who wound up getting suspended by the Chicago diocese after making himself into a national spectacle?  Well, Father Pfleger is back, baby, and he has a new eeeeeevil in his sights — guns.  Or perhaps more accurately … gateway guns?

There was a time when kids wanting toy guns had limited media images of cowboys and Indians or cops and robbers to emulate. Today, not so.

So the Rev. Michael Pfleger said he is challenging the sale of the toys — in Easter baskets — to a generation plagued by more violent and rampant use of guns in their own neighborhoods.

“I am writing to express my concern and outrage that Kmart is selling Easter baskets, which are obviously for children, with toy guns in them,” Pfleger, pastor of St. Sabina Catholic Church in Auburn-Gresham, wrote to officials at the big box retailer, in a Mar. 9 letter obtained by the Sun-Times.

“With the increasing gun violence in Chicago and across this country, I am amazed that you would choose to offer toy guns to our children to make them comfortable with playing with them. I am asking you to remove any baskets with toy guns in them from your store’s shelves immediately,” Pfleger wrote.

These must be realistic replicas, right?  Those can lead to dangerous situations, as a few deadly incidents can attest.  None of those incidents, however, involved the garishly-colored Nerf gun variety:

The toys in question are plastic water guns or Nerf dart shooters in sizes ranging from pistol- to nearly rifle-length, contained in Easter baskets sold by the retailer for prices starting at $9.99.

Seriously?  The candy in the Easter baskets are more dangerous than the Nerf guns and water pistols.  Pfleger explains that as a Christian, he’s offended by the inclusion of violent toys in this “celebration of life,” but as a Catholic priest, shouldn’t he be more offended by Easter eggs, Easter bunnies, and the commercialization of the holiest day on the Christian calendar?  Isn’t that his day job?

Pfleger then argues that Nerf is nothing more than a gateway to the harder stuff:

But equally important is that any psychiatrist will tell you a child who gets comfortable playing with toy guns and pointing them at people as a child becomes comfortable picking them up as an adult. In a nation that’s plagued with gun violence, neither Kmart nor any other store should be selling guns in Easter baskets to our kids.

This sounds a lot like the arguments people make when they demand that the government ban certain games on gaming systems, taken to a reductio ad absurdum level.  Pfleger isn’t demanding government intervention — yet — but the argument is just as ridiculous.  Even if there were something inherently wrong with being comfortable handling a pistol or a rifle, and there isn’t, shooting Nerf darts as a kid on Easter is not going to turn adults later into Mad Dog Colls.

Update: I managed to misspell a word I just coined!  The subhead included the word “Nerfsanel,” which an astute commenter points out should be “Nerfsenal.”  If Nerf ever makes a perfumed foam dart with Chanel No. 5, then perhaps “Nerfsanel” would be correct.

Related Posts:

Breaking on Hot Air



Trackback URL


(Nerf) Guns: The gateway drug to liberty

Here’s all you need to know about Left these days:

If it enhances Liberty, they’re against it.

If it enhances dependency and tyranny they’re all for it.

Chip on March 15, 2012 at 12:25 PM

Dang. I wish I had nerf guns like that when I was a kid!

Pfleger…special place in hell for the likes of him and others who lead people astray.

As to defrocking – I wonder if the church will discover that it has a backbone now after the direct attack; the only reason I can see for not taking him out was due to political considerations…

John_G on March 15, 2012 at 12:31 PM

I bought plenty of Nerf guns for my kids when they were growing up, but here’s my new Gateway Gun! :-)

Harbingeing on March 15, 2012 at 12:47 PM

Since we’re on the topic of guns:

Top Gun…For Home Defense

We’re talking about guns and, in particular, which ones offer the best bang (sorry!) for home defense. It might come as a surprise then when I tell you: Going to guns is the last line of defense when protecting you and yours at home.

Your home defense plan needs to be based on several layers of security, each one contributing to making your home as hard a target as possible. Deter a home invasion before it starts… get a monitored alarm system and put the company’s stickers on your windows and their lawn sign on your lawn. If you don’t already have them, install deadbolts in your doors.

Galt2009 on March 15, 2012 at 12:48 PM

Wow, my family must be pretty evil then! My parents only had us girls, and we had Nerf guns as kids. Although, we also had real guns too, since our dad was a police officer and our grandfather was a hunter. And we’re Catholic too! Maybe in Pfleger’s eyes we should be excommunicated for having things in the house that directly do not celebrate life.
Do we make up for it since all of us went into public service? My sister and I were both 911 operators and mom worked at the jail, along with dad patrolling the streets. Guess that doesn’t count.

RadioAngel on March 15, 2012 at 12:49 PM

I had one of these when I was 11. I practiced my fast draw for hours on end, but I’ve never yet busted a cap in anyone’s a$$.

rivlax on March 15, 2012 at 1:06 PM

Puts Clint Eastwood in a whole ‘nother light…

“I know what you’re thinking. Did he fire twenty-five shots or only twenty-four? Well to tell you the truth in all this excitement I’ve kinda lost track myself. But being this is a Nerf N-Strike Vulcan EBF-25 – the most powerful Nerf gun in the world and would blow your head clean off, well okay maybe just make it sting a little, you’ve got to ask yourself one question–Do I feel lucky? Well, do ya punk?!”

JohnAGJ on March 15, 2012 at 1:19 PM

Man I did a lot of stupid stuff as a kid. And now my mother wants me to build a trebuchet to show off at a local high school.

Buckshot Bill on March 15, 2012 at 9:46 AM

Best. Mom. Evah!!!

Growing up as a kid in my neighborhood Pfleger would have had to confiscate ever stick/tree limb in sight.

Goody2Shoes on March 15, 2012 at 10:27 AM

LOL! No kidding! Watching my nephew turn just about anything into a sword (he’s a ninja dontcha know) really brings back memories…

JohnAGJ on March 15, 2012 at 1:24 PM

The Henry… if you don’t have one, you should consider it.

E L Frederick (Sniper One) on March 15, 2012 at 1:25 PM

I dunno…I think Pfleger has kind of a point. I don’t care one whit about the sale of toy guns (Nerf or otherwise) but I have to say I get a weird feeling when I see Easter baskets themed after SpiderMan, Transformers, etc.

I wouldn’t go so far as to demand K-Mart stop selling them, but I would never buy them for my kids.

JohnTant on March 15, 2012 at 1:30 PM

Cool. Now my husband and my 11 year old are going to buy even more Nerf guns, just because. :)

JennM111 on March 15, 2012 at 1:50 PM

Kids – boys especially – will turn ANYTHING into a gun. My wife found that out with our boys – initially not wanting them to have toy guns, even though her Dad was a military marksman with lots of shooting trophies. So my kids have grown up with plenty of toy guns and now have real guns.
Over the top in a fear of guns, BUT I kind of see the point about putting toy guns in Easter baskets. Seems sort of like the comment in “The Santa Clause” movie about “Santa rolling into town in a Panzer!!” It just doesn’t seem quite right.

dentarthurdent on March 15, 2012 at 2:32 PM

Clown priest a laughing stock

scboy on March 15, 2012 at 2:42 PM

My kids had cap guns and Nerf guns, but they also made guns out of Legos. Boys (and some girls) like guns. Boys like things that blow up. Boys like things that crash.

My youngest son, 19, received a shotgun and a rifle from my father-in-law when he passed away. We then bought him another rifle for this last Christmas. A couple of months ago, he was out shopping for some accessories for his rifle and the store he was in had a sale on an M4, half-off plus a 10% military discount (he’s in the Air National Guard). My son snapped it up. He WILL be ready for the zombie apocalypse!

We have a homemade shooting range at our family cabin in the mountains. As soon as he got off of work this morning he headed up there with a friend from West Point who’s on spring break.

I can see that someday his arsenal will rival my brother’s, currently at 100 and counting. My brother is an avid outdoorsman – hunting and fishing. He takes after my grandfather. My dad’s cousin was also a gun nut, as well as a Jesuit priest. He was the kid in school who blew up toilets with firecrackers. We had some great July 4th celebrations with him when I was a kid.

This is all NORMAL behavior. It’s the crazies on the left who are so afraid of weapons that they make others think that there’s something wrong with them. I think there were a lot fewer shootings back in the day when handling a firearm was part of every day life. Kids had shooting and hunting clubs at school, kept their guns in their lockers, and there was never an incident. Perhaps because no one wanted to mess with them because they were all armed.

Common Sense on March 15, 2012 at 2:51 PM

…becomes comfortable picking them up as an adult.

Wow, he says that like it’s a bad thing.

Even with toy guns, our son was taught that pointing them at people is not OK unless the game was mutually agreed upon.

I want adults comfortable around firearms. I don’t want them cowering in a corner at the mere sight of a gun barrel.

AZfederalist on March 15, 2012 at 3:24 PM

Nerf guns are the funnest thing out there. My grandsons and I have screaming battles with these things, complete with ambushes and little boys ganging up on Granny, who takes on all comers and usually wins. Wish they had ’em when I was a kid. All I had was the old cowboy guns, complete with a holster. Of course, my dad taught me how to shoot by the time I was 10. I’m still a pretty good shot.

Mean Granny on March 15, 2012 at 9:11 PM

Mean Granny on March 15, 2012 at 9:11 PM

Just way too funny. My boys were heavily into paintball and the younger one got into airsoft for awhile as well (plastic BBs). They took on their GranPa (my wife’s Dad) once at a paintball course thinking the 2 of them could beat old GranPa easily – he nailed them both with head shots. He may have been “old” but he was a military marksman as well in his younger days.

dentarthurdent on March 16, 2012 at 12:07 AM

The Henry… if you don’t have one, you should consider it.

E L Frederick (Sniper One) on March 15, 2012 at 1:25 PM

Had a friend years ago who had one of these. I fired it and really enjoyed it. Every camper, hiker, survivalist or prepper should have at least one. I’m none of the above so I don’t have one – but will consider it for the future. I do have a Henry lever action .22 that is slicker than snake snot and tons of fun to shoot. Darned accurate too.

swinia sutki on March 16, 2012 at 6:07 AM

As a convert to the Catholic faith, I tend to have high expectations of our clergy, especially the hierarchy. It’s beyond me how and why this man has not been removed from the priesthood. Perhaps my standards are greater than the Vatican’s.

TruLevinian on March 15, 2012 at 12:03 PM

Like the GOP, they’ll let anyone in; even those who would seek to destroy it.

swinia sutki on March 16, 2012 at 6:19 AM

As a kid my weapon of choice was a Walther P-38… which transformed into Megatron. :)

TMOverbeck on March 16, 2012 at 11:47 AM

Pfather Pfleger is pfull of pfudge.

Olo_Burrows on March 17, 2012 at 5:22 PM