lawn darts

The recent shootings in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio has once again ignited a national debate about gun reform. But “lawn darts reform” was never even a debate after just one child was killed.

Lawn darts were a popular toy in the 1970s and 1980s, in which two teams of two people would aim metal-tipped darts inside rings marking a target area. However, lawn darts sometimes proved fatal, particularly if children were playing with them. In 1987, a California man named David Snow launched a campaign to ban law darts after his seven-year-old daughter Michelle died from a dart piercing her skull.

According to Mental Floss, Snow learned that several children had been injured from lawn darts in the 1970s, leading to a ban on the toy that was eventually overturned once the manufacturers took the ban to court. A compromise the manufacturers reached with the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) allowed the darts to continue to be sold, just not in any toy section of a store or in any toy stores, and with a warning that stated the darts were to only be used by adults.

However, Snow wanted the darts banned entirely, and ultimately his campaign led to the CPSC banning the sale of lawn darts anywhere in the U.S.

“Three children — ages 4, 7, and 13 — are known to have died in lawn dart-related incidents. An estimated 670 lawn dart injuries are treated each year in U.S. hospital emergency rooms. Three quarters of the injured are under 15 years old,” the agency stated at the time. “The types of lawn darts associated with the three deaths will be banned by the CPSC action.”

In 1988, Bob Archer, the owner of Kent Sporting Goods in New London, Ohio, spoke presciently about the lawn dart ban in the context of them not being anywhere near as dangerous as guns.

“I think things are wrong with guns. Which is the greater evil — lawn darts that kill three people or guns that kill … thousands in a year?” Archer said.

Monday, August 5 marks the 217th day of the year in 2017. However, there have been 251 mass shootings (an attack in which four or more people are killed or injured by firearms, not including the shooter) in the U.S. so far this year, averaging more than one mass shooting per day. The firearms used in the recent shootings in El Paso and Dayton were purchased legally. The gun used to kill three people at the Gilroy, California garlic festival (including a six-year-old boy) was also purchased legally in neighboring Nevada, leading gun reform activists to push Congress to enact federal gun laws that supersede state laws.

(Featured image: Bluebellylint/Wikimedia Commons)


Tom Cahill is a contributor for Grit Post who covers political and economic news. He lives in Bend, Oregon. Send him an email at tom DOT v DOT cahill AT gmail DOT com.

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