Air rifles--lethal weapons

J Pediatr Surg. 1996 Oct;31(10):1407-8. doi: 10.1016/s0022-3468(96)90840-4.


Modern air rifles are very powerful and potentially dangerous, yet they are sold without a license because they are considered toys. We report on 16 patients who were shot with air rifles. Nine of these patients were treated in the last 3 years. Seven patients sustained injuries to the chest and upper back. The BB (ball bearing) penetrated the aorta of two patients, one of whom died. One of two patients shot in the abdomen had injuries to the iliac artery and the colon. Three patients were shot in the head and neck, three in the extremities, and one through the penis. Particularly alarming to us is the fact that nine patients had been shot intentionally after minor arguments with other children. The assailants were neighborhood children in seven cases, a friend in five, and a sibling in two.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Female
  • Firearms*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Play and Playthings
  • Wounds, Gunshot* / epidemiology
  • Wounds, Gunshot* / etiology