Toy Gun Class Project Seems to Have Missed the Mark

IMAGE DISTRIBUTED FOR HASBRO - Hasbro introduces Nerf Modulus, a new line inspired by consumer insights and a demand for increased levels of blaster customization, on Saturday, Feb 14, 2015 at its showroom during the North American International Toy Fair in New York, NY. The Nerf Modulus line offers fans the ability to build and re-build their blasters as needed, adapting to a wide variety of blaster missions, and includes the powerful Modulus ECS-10 Blaster and four Modulus Upgrade Kits, which together can create more than 1,000 blaster configurations. (Photo by Matt Peyton/Invision for Hasbro/AP Images)

IMAGE DISTRIBUTED FOR HASBRO - Hasbro introduces Nerf Modulus, a new line inspired by consumer insights and a demand for increased levels of blaster customization, on Saturday, Feb 14, 2015 at its showroom during the North American International Toy Fair in New York, NY. The Nerf Modulus line offers fans the ability to build and re-build their blasters as needed, adapting to a wide variety of blaster missions, and includes the powerful Modulus ECS-10 Blaster and four Modulus Upgrade Kits, which together can create more than 1,000 blaster configurations. (Photo by Matt Peyton/Invision for Hasbro/AP Images)

Campus violence is no laughing matter, and reports of a shooter on campus (quite understandably) tend to send people into panic mode, particularly if they or loved ones are in the vicinity. Late morning yesterday brought reports of a murder-suicide at North Lake College in Irving, Texas. By the time it was reported, authorities were indicating it was not an active shooter situation. Still, it had to be unsettling and upsetting to those in the North Lake community.

Then, late afternoon yesterday, came word that an active shooter situation was unfolding here in St. Louis at St. Louis University. The University tweeted out that a man with a gun had been seen entering Spring Hall, one of the campus residence halls.

This was followed by reports of shots being fired in the vicinity.  Students and faculty were told to shelter in place.

Thankfully, the all clear was called approximately two hours later, with no injuries reported.

Turns out, it wasn’t an active shooter situation, but rather a class project gone somewhat awry. As the St. Louis Post Dispatch reports, students in an aerospace and mechanical engineering class were assigned a project which required constructing “a working device with interchangeable parts.” Toy rubber band guns were among the options.

Apparently, one student’s toy gun was “very realistic,” and prompted the scare when he was seen taking it back to his dormitory. Police have found no evidence of gunfire on or near the campus — that part appears to be a case of rumor catching fire via social media and serves as a cautionary tale about passing along unsubstantiated information, and about panicking and over-reacting at the mere sight or mention of a gun. Still, it’s hard to find much fault with those who did under these circumstances.

The student in question has been questioned, but not charged with anything. There’s no indication he intended to prompt a panic. The toy guns have been collected and destroyed. I don’t imagine class projects going forward will include them as an option.