Nonpowder firearms have long been marketed to children and teenagers as toys or “starter” firearms and include BB, pellet, airsoft, and paintball guns. From 1990 through 2016, there was an overall decrease in the rate of nonpowder firearm injuries treated in US emergency departments among children younger than 18 years, but an increasing rate of eye injuries related to nonpowder firearms.
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.
- While the number of nonpowder firearm injuries has decreased by about half since 1990, there’s still a child treated in an emergency department every hour in the US.
- The average age of children with a nonpowder firearm injury is 12 years.
- Eyes are injured more than any other body part and the number of eye injuries is on the rise.
- These injuries are often serious, with about 1 in 5 requiring admission to the hospital.
- These injuries can result in serious adverse outcomes, including partial or complete vision loss.
Injury Prevention Tips:
- Wear protective eyewear every time BB, pellet, airsoft, and paintball guns are used.
- Check all state laws and local ordinances before purchasing a nonpowder firearm to understand what restrictions apply and when children are allowed to use the product.
- Children develop at different rates, so parents need to decide when their child has the necessary maturity, judgement, and impulse control to safely use a nonpowder firearm.
- Only use these products in areas that have been designated safe for their use. In many states, use in public places is prohibited.
- Before allowing a nonpowder firearm to be used:
- Make sure the user has received training on how to safely handle the firearm
- Establish and discuss the rules and boundaries for use and storage
- Designate an adult to be responsible for supervision