From deadly weapon to toy and back again: the danger of air rifles

J Trauma. 1996 Dec;41(6):1039-43. doi: 10.1097/00005373-199612000-00017.


More than 30,000 air gun injuries occur annually in the United States. While in the past these injuries were usually not serious unless an eye was injured, advances in technology have created air guns with the ability to maim and kill. A recent carotid injury with embolization of the BB is presented. Modern air rifles can produce a muzzle velocity of 1,200 feet per second, faster than many low-velocity handguns and rifles. Head, chest, and abdominal injuries have lead to permanent damage and death. Federal and state laws have not kept up and air rifles are only mentioned in the laws of 28 states, and then often only to exclude them from being termed firearms or weapons. The law should take cognizance of the fact that air guns have changed and should be governed by the same laws that apply to firearms.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Carotid Arteries / diagnostic imaging
  • Carotid Arteries / surgery
  • Carotid Artery Injuries*
  • Firearms / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Radiography
  • United States
  • Wounds, Gunshot / diagnostic imaging*
  • Wounds, Gunshot / surgery