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SEATTLE and CINCINNATI - - Air guns are firearms that use compressed gas to propel a projectile. According to reports from the U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission, over 2 million air guns are sold annually in the United States.
Researchers at the University of Washington and Cincinnati Schools of Medicine recently reviewed records of children admitted to three medical centers because of air gun injuries from 1988 through 1996. The results of the study were published as an article entitled "Serious and Fatal Air Gun Injuries: More Than Meets the Eye" in the journal PEDIATRICS (1997;100:609-612).
Of the 101 children studied, 74% were injured from BB guns while 26% were from pellet guns.
The average age of the children was 10.9 years. Victims were most commonly shot by a friend or sibling.
Although 71 % of the injuries were unintentional, 5 % were assaults, and 1% were suicides.
15% of the children required intensive care treatment. Over half required one or more surgical procedures. 38 had eye injuries (66% permanent vision impairment, 39% completely blind). 14 children required hospitalization for injuries to the neck, 15 to the chest (including 3 to the heart). 19 had injuries to the belly.
10 children had injuries within the skull. Three of these died.
As the authors conclude, air guns clearly pose a significant risk of severe injury, permanent disability, and even death.
The editors of MedicineNet would add that the impressive impact of air gun injuries from the report above begs the questions: "What is the real purpose of these supposed toys we give to our children? Whose interests are we really satisfying? Are we acting as responsible parents?"