BB, airsoft and paintball guns dangerous for kids, study finds

Researchers at a Dallas children’s hospital aim to show that non-powder firearms such as airsoft, BB and paintball guns should be viewed as “powerful weapons” rather than toys.

A study by researchers with Children’s Medical Center Dallas shows that those devices are “causing increasingly severe and sometimes life-threatening injuries in pediatric patients,” the group said on Oct. 23. They will present the findings at the American Academy of Pediatrics Conference and Exhibition in Washington, D.C. on Sunday.

“Non-powder guns are not toys, and an adult should always supervise their use by children,” said Dr. Nina Mizuki Fitzgerald, lead researcher of the study, in press materials.

Along with advocating safety, Fitzgerald said they will recommend that children wear eye protection when using the non-powder guns. She also said the study’s findings suggest a need for stricter regulations of the muzzle velocities of non-powder guns.

For the study, researchers reviewed 176 cases of injuries by non-powder firearms from years 2010 to 2013. Of the patients, 87 percent were male and 30 percent were younger than 10 years of age.

Results show 29 percent of children ultimately needed surgery to remove deeply embedded objects, repair structures of the eye, remove part of the skull or insert drains to relieve swelling resulting from traumatic brain injury.

According to Fitzgerald, 10 percent of children suffered a lasting functional deficit, of which 83 percent were eye-related, and 8 percent of children ultimately had an eye removed surgically.

At the conference, Fitgerald will only be presenting the abstract. However, a longer article may be published at a later date.