Study Highlights Dangers of Nonpowder Guns

The American Academy of Pediatrics has released a study about the dangers and possible injuries caused by air rifles, paint ball pistols, and BB guns. According to the study written by Dr. Danielle Laraque, and the Committee on Injury, Violence, and Poison Prevention "nonpowder guns continue to cause serious injuries to children and adolescents."

Dr. Laraque is a prominent pediatrician who has received accolades such as an award from the U.S. Public Health Service Primary Care Health policy Fellowship in 2001. Dr. Laraque’s concentration and main focal points of research are in injury prevention, child abuse, children’s mental health, and under served communities.

Dr. Laraque and other pediatricians have collaborated and written studies about the nonpowder gun epidemic.

According to a commentary written by Dr. Laraque, Dr. Howard Spivak of Tufts University, and Dr. Marilyn Bull of the Department of Pediatrics for the James Whitcomb Riley Hospital in Indiana, data from a past survey in 1994 showed that out of "982 pediatricians involved in direct patient care, one in five pediatricians had treated a gun injury ." Resulting in "92.5 percent of the pediatricians from that survey supporting the restriction and sale of possession of hand guns."

The American Academy of Pediatrics report shows that "between 1990 and 2000, the US Consumer Product Safety Commission reported 39 nonpowder gun-related deaths, of which 32 were children younger than 15 years."

"They’re being given as toys without recognition that there may be a serious injury," said Dr. Laraque.

BB guns, air rifles, and paint ball pistols are no longer safe toys. They pose a threat to any child that uses them and can be potentially lethal. Nonpowder guns are almost as powerful as traditional firearms.

"The muzzle velocity of these guns can range from approximately 150 feet per second to 1200 feet per second,” according to reports from the American Academy of Pediatrics.

According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nonpowder guns cause numerous injuries. In 2000 most victims of these injuries were male, and approximately 12 percent suffered from eye injuries, 24 percent suffered from head and neck injuries, and one percent suffered from injuries to other body parts.

Tamra Kelly, a freshman broadcast journalism major at Howard University, and also a mother of a 13 month old said, "They are not very safe and they look like real guns."

In light of the recent evidence, that most victims are males, Kelly suggests that giving nonpowder guns to kids, especially young black males is "detrimental."

Nonpowder guns are "detrimental because it provides young black males with a sense of confidence that they may lack. It strokes their ego, and gives them power," said Kelly.

Across the country, states, like New York (duplicates federal law), New Jersey, California, Hawaii, Maryland, and Massachusetts have recognized the potential threat and have laws and regulations in place.

However, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics report, "Some state laws do not address nonpowder guns at all. Statistics from the report show that seven states have no legal minimum age for a child buying rifles or shotguns from an unlicensed seller and 18 states have no minimum age for possession of these guns.

Nonpowder guns are still on the market and may remain due to the fact that the 1994 assault weapon ban expired on Sept. 13, 2004. According to reports from the Firearms Law Center, "President George W. Bush said that he would sign a law renewing the ban, and state and local laws banning assault weapons remain in effect even though the federal ban has allowed to lapse."