Fun with Jarts
TRAVERSE CITY — People who know me know my lifelong obsession with Jarts. If you’re younger than 40, you probably have no idea what those are.
They were – and are – the world’s best lawn game, consisting of two plastic rings placed 20 or so paces apart into which you lob Jarts, which are winged darts with a metal spear of death on the end.
That spear is why they’re not made anymore, of course. Back in 1987, a little girl was killed by one thrown by a neighbor kid who was horsing around. The Consumer Product Safety Commission soon banned them. I’ve missed them at tailgate parties and backyard BBQs ever since. (Bags and Kan Jam are sad, inadequate substitutes.)
Were they dangerous? Oh, heck yeah. The lawn dart wiki says 6,100 people ended up in the ER because of Jarts in the eight years preceding the ban, making them the lawn game equivalent of Donald Trump’s tweeting thumb.
But should they have been banned?
Well, yeah, of course. Stupid, dangerous things, no matter how much fun, should be banned for the greater good. (Twinkies and “The Bachelor” have somehow escaped thus far.)
That’s called “civilization.”
The problem with civilizations, though, is that they’re run by human beings, and human beings are terribly inconsistent creatures.
A great example is Gov. Whitmer. After six vaping deaths nationally, she announced a ban on the sale of flavored nicotine vaping products in the state.
Warranted? You bet, if for no other reason than vaping is (sorry) stupid in the extreme. Plus, isn’t it just common sense that inhaling watermelon-flavored nicotine water will wreck your lungs?
Of course it is. Which is why vaping is going the way of my beloved Jarts.
Good for the governor for taking a stand. Also, good for her for sticking to her principles in the face of limp criticism from vape store owners who are moaning about how unfair it is that they might not beat the state’s deadline to sell all of their noxious crap. (Picture a bomb-maker, suddenly banned, saying “Hey, wait … let me have a half off sale at least!”)
But someone please explain to me why we can ban Jarts (1 death) and flavored vape products (6 deaths) and continue to do nothing about guns.
Yes, this is a gun control column. Deal with it. Thirty six thousand Americans lose their life to them every year, an average of 100 per day, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
And yet we do nothing. And have done nothing for years, despite polls saying most of us want common sense changes to our gun laws.
At the very least, you would think we would do something about assault weapons like the AR-15, which has become the weapon of choice for mass murder copycats from coast to coast for obvious reasons: it can fire an incredible number of rounds in a short amount of time. For instance, the shooter in the Tree of Life synagogue slaughter fired an estimated 450 rounds, killing 26. “Ninety percent of the people in there were unrecognizable,” a first responder said. “You know the blood everywhere, I mean it just covered them from head to toe. They were shot in so many different places that you just couldn’t make out who they were.”
Jarts? Dangerous! Vaping? A menace to society! War weapons? Meh.
We are strange, strange people.
Thoughts and prayers to you all. And to me. I think we’re going to need ’em.
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Andrew Heller, an award-winning newspaper columnist, appears weekly in the Daily Press. He graduated from Escanaba Area High School in 1979. Follow him at andrewheller.com and on Facebook and Twitter. Write to him via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.