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Boy Scouts of America: Our ban on water gun fights is nothing new

If you want to be part of the Boy Scouts of America, it's best to leave your water guns at home.

A recent blog post by the organization noting that water guns are authorized for target practice on inanimate objects but not to shoot at other scouts has attracted some controversy and ridicule.

However, the rule put forth on page 99 of the 2015 Boy Scouts of America National Shooting Sports Manual is nothing new. It's been in place for several years, according to the organization.

"We have a long-standing guideline to scouting safety,'' Boy Scouts spokesman Deron Smith told TODAY.com. "The blog post referencing the water guns is specifically targeted to our adults responsible for taking the kids out. It's just a reminder of the policies that were already in place in the guide to safe scouting. This has gotten a bit of reaction and has been taken to be a new approach, but this is not new."

“Pointing any type of firearm or simulated firearm at any individual is unauthorized,'' the Boy Scouts of America outlines on Page 61 of its Guide to Safe Scouting. "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.”

Whether or not banning simple water gun fights between Boy Scouts is overkill is not for the organization to decide.

"That's a different discussion for health and safety experts,'' Smith said. "We have to make sure that kids have phenomenal, life-changing experiences in a safe manner. Regardless of that policy, we make sure the kids have fun. If they can't squirt each other with water guns, they will have fun in another way."

"Why the rule?'' Bryan Wendell wrote in the blog post. "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?'''

Smith emphasized that the Boy Scouts of America is more focused on innovative approaches to traditional programs like its merit badges than on the water gun issue. The organization recent announced a new animation badge for kids to learn animation in a program designed with input by the Savannah College of Art and Design and professionals who have worked for Disney and EA Sports.

"Our absolute focus is fun, relevant, innovative activities,'' Smith said. "We want to have fun and be safe."

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