Historic photo

Lawn Darts

I recently had “the talk” with my 8-year-old son, but it’s not the type of talk you’re probably thinking of:


If you find yourself in a situation in which a gunman has entered the building, use your energy to comfort those around you. When you do, it will take your mind off your own panic.


I want you to know your mother and I are right outside, there to help get you out of there. So, no need to feel like you miss us, we are right there. You just can’t see us, okay?


And if the worst should happen, that it’s your turn to go to Heaven, then know you have a whole group of family members there ready to help you.


So, you see, there is a group of us here ready to hug you when you get out, and a group in Heaven ready to hug you when you get out, so either way you are taken care of and not alone. So don’t worry, just help those around you feel better and it will be okay.


This was the conversation I had with Mr. Carter after the school shooting in Nashville. Katie Jo had similar words of wisdom for him, and when we spoke on the phone soon after this parental prepping, she simply listened as I cried and screamed in rage. This is not okay, yet there are similar conversations between parents and guardians and their school-age loved ones across the country taking place as you read this. Worse, there are many whose kids are no longer here to have the talk at all.


This isn’t going to be a monologue about gun control. In fact, I’m going to relate this to one of the biggest threats in my childhood, which caused death and serious injury to many young children back in the day: lawn darts.


For those not familiar with these weapons of grass destruction, the idea is somewhat similar to cornhole. You set up a space in your yard where you placed two rings at either end and threw metal-tipped foot-long darts in the air to try to hit the target. What could go wrong?


We had a set. I remember being a little intimidated and not allowed to touch one unless supervised by my older siblings or parents. Of course, no one had to bring up my dead relatives to try to comfort me about them, but I instinctively understood the danger of such missiles.


By then the FDA had already placed restrictions on who could sell a set, and you couldn’t find them in toy stores. There were calls for an all-out ban, but that wouldn’t happen until after a seven-year-old girl in California took a lawn dart to the head in 1987, killing her. Until that moment, 6,100 Americans went to emergency rooms for injuries, most of them 15 and younger.


More than 6,000 children were killed or injured in the United States by gunfire just in 2022. Three children’s deaths total, and lawn darts were banned. Seems the National Lawn Dart Association didn’t have much clout with politicians.