Scoutmaster Musings - To Laser or Not To Laser

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Scoutmaster Musings

To Laser or Not To Laser
Is it ok for Boy Scout units to participate in laser tag events?

The answer for the past few years has been an easy, "NO!" because you could point right to the "Unauthorized and Retriced Activities" section of Chapter IX - Sports and Activities in the Guide to Safe Scouting and read the exact wording from the Boy Scouts of America. Every scout leader should have the latest version of this document. It is available at local scout shops and online.

It used to read:
But, the latest version of that section on now reads:

So, how should the new wording be interpreted?
Was the word "lasers" purposefully deleted to imply that they are ok to use? If someone reads the old version and then the new version, that would be an easy implication to make. But, someone just reading the new version could include lasers as firearms.
Are laser tag guns "firearms" or not? They don't discharge a projectile. They don't cause injury. There's a valid argument that they should not be included in the category of "firearm".

The other activities listed in the Unauthorized and Restricted list are activities in which physical injury is a higher than normal risk. Laser tag has no more risk of physical injury than a run-of-the-mill scouting game like Grab the Bacon, Capture the Flag, or the dozens of others scouts play.
If laser tag was included in the list because of the fear it promotes shooting humans, then it doesn't match the reasoning for the rest of the list. That doesn't mean it should be an authorized scouting activity, but it does mean the BSA should specifically, obviously, and decidedly state if laser tag is aurhotized or not.

By the way, it's interesting to notice the last activity added to the list of unauthorized and restricted activities:

See Current Version or Previous Version (takes awhile to load).

Scout On
Posted: 15:56 01-27-2008 302
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Site Disclosure Statement

 Nov 05, 2014 - Eric
The Unauthorized and Restricted Activities section of the General Health and Safety FAQs page of ( has this to say about laser tag:

Q. Is laser tag an approved activity?
A. Scout units may plan or participate in paintball, laser tag, or similar events where participants shoot at targets that are neither living nor human representations.

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