Rethink taking toy guns on trip

The Baltimore Sun

My sons, 11 and 13, and I will be traveling to visit friends in Europe this summer with boys the same ages. My sons are very excited and want to take some things to enjoy with their new friends. We were considering taking Nerf guns that shoot soft Nerf darts or a "gun" that shoots pingpong balls. Would we be able to pack these in our luggage?

The Transportation Security Administration says yes. Nico Melendez, a spokesman for the TSA, said the toys "shouldn't be a problem."

"Nerf guns aren't the problem," he added. "Real guns aren't the problem if they're transported properly," which means, among other things, declaring them, making sure they're unloaded and carrying them in the proper locked case.

This might be the first time in recent memory that guns aren't a problem - at least, from the TSA's U.S.-based perspective. But note that the rules for carry-on and checked baggage vary from country to country, so what passes muster in the U.S. might not be OK abroad.

So as not to tempt fate, Dr. Charles Shubin, medical director of the Children's Health Center at Mercy FamilyCare in Baltimore, gives Nerf a thumbs up but suggests taking Nerf basketballs and footballs instead of the shooters.

Jen Singer, author of the book You're a Good Mom (and Your Kids Aren't So Bad Either), says in an e-mail that as a mother of two boys, ages 9 and 11, she tries to stay at places that have pools so the kids can blow off steam.

"The last thing my sons would need on a trip to Britain are toy guns to blast each other in the hotel room until someone breaks something. ... Better to pack some good old-fashioned playing cards, travel games, like Battleship and chess."

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