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TikTok Challenge or Not, Nonpowder Firearms Are Dangerous for Children

Mar 22, 2022
tik tok app.

A new TikTok challenge is encouraging people to shoot soft gel balls at others with a gel-ball gun or an airsoft gun. As you can imagine, this challenge often involves people getting hurt. While the gel balls often simply startle their targets and leave small bruises upon impact, more serious injuries can happen.

Researchers and doctors recommend that protective eyewear is worn every time nonpowder firearms like BB, pellet, gel ball, airsoft and paintball guns are used but that’s not possible when many of the injuries that are happening because of the TikTok challenge are to innocent bystanders - children playing on the playground, adults out walking their children or dogs, and others minding their own business.

A 2019 study by researchers at the Center for Injury Research and Policy found that there was one child treated every hour in the U.S. for a nonpowder firearm-related injury. Many of these injuries were to the eye and often serious, with 22% requiring admission to the hospital. These injuries can result in serious adverse outcomes, including partial or complete vision loss. The average age of children with a nonpowder firearm injury was 12 years.

Nonpowder firearms can cause permanent, severe disability and even death. They are more powerful than many people think, and some can achieve a muzzle velocity similar to a handgun. Stricter and more consistent safety legislation at the state level, as well as more child and parental education regarding proper supervision, firearm handling, and use of protective eyewear are needed.

State safety regulations for nonpowder firearms vary greatly, and frequently can be easily bypassed. The inconsistency in regulations includes the age cutoff for child access, with some applying to children younger than 18 years of age and others only to those younger than 12 years of age. There are currently no federal safety regulations for nonpowder firearms, but two voluntary standards have been adopted and manufacturers generally comply with the safety specifications included in these standards.

Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children's Hospital
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Laura Dattner, MA
Center for Injury Research and Policy

Laura Dattner is a research writer in the Center for Injury Research and Policy. With both a health communications and public health background, she works to translate pediatric injury research into meaningful, accurate messages which motivate the public to make positive behavior changes.

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