Firearm fatalities and injuries from hunting accidents in Germany

Int J Legal Med. 1996;108(5):252-5. doi: 10.1007/BF01369820.


Accidental hunting firearm injuries and fatalities (257 cases from 1961 to 1992) were evaluated in detail. Most persons responsible for the accident were more than 40 years old and experienced in hunting, and 26% of the gunshot wounds were fatal. In 77% of cases the victim was shot by another person and in 23% the wound was self-inflicted. The firearms/ammunition used were pellets from shotguns (63%), bullets from rifles (31%), shotgun slugs (3.5%) and bullets from handguns (2.5%). In 22% of all accidents from pellets severe eyeball injuries were involved, and 38% of the wounds were caused from a distance of 5 m or less, including all self-inflicted injuries. The most frequent factors responsible for the accident were: improper handling of the firearm (37%), failure to notice the victim (24.1%), covering the victim while swinging on the game (14.8%), ricocheting projectiles (13.6%), inadequate storage of the firearm (11.7%) and mistaking the victim for game (9.3%). In some cases more than one factor contributed to the accident. Defective firearm/ammunition, as the only non-human factor, was involved in only 1.6% of accidents. Some aspects of the prevention and the forensic investigation of hunting accidents are discussed.

MeSH terms

  • Accidents / mortality*
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Athletic Injuries / mortality*
  • Athletic Injuries / prevention & control
  • Cause of Death*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Eye Injuries, Penetrating / mortality
  • Female
  • Firearms / statistics & numerical data*
  • Germany / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Wounds, Gunshot / mortality*
  • Wounds, Gunshot / prevention & control