Friday, March 22, 2013

This Breaks My Heart...

I hate stories like this, I really do.

Florida boy, 10, dies after being shot with BB gun
A Florida boy who was accidentally shot in the head by his teen brother with a BB gun last week died Wednesday night from his injuries, reported.
Investigators told the station that the boys were recently given Daisy Powerline 880S BB guns. They were firing at targets when Skyler Richardson's 13-year-old brother accidentally shot him at close range.
The brother claims it was an accident; I suspect it was more like horseplay that went wrong. I know among certain groups (ahem) it was fashionable to use BB guns as a sort of proto paintball gun back when I was a youth; the pump action guns at one pump (and ONLY one pump) would produce a nice stinging welt but would not tear one's jeans. Woe betide the youth who pumped more than one time and broke the skin. Not that I would participate in that, of course, but I heard about other boys who might have...

Regardless, I'm certain that he didn't mean to kill his brother. I suspect he hadn't been taught the four rules, nor given proper instruction in the use of a BB gun. Treated properly, BB guns are hours and hours of fun for literally pennies - even today you can pick up a large container of BBs for pennies (6K BBs for under $10). Any .22LR steel target will work great with a .177 caliber BB (although, of course, be sure to wear eye protection and be aware of your backstop), and the array of pellet guns out there varies from the Crosman 760 that I had growing up to 1200+ FPS rifles capable of impressive accuracy.

But they are not toys.

If you purchase one for your child, good for you. If you purchase one for your child and then do not provide any more supervision than a Nerf gun, not so good. It is very hard to do significant damage with a BB gun - but as this story sadly shows, it is not impossible. I'm sure that these parents didn't realize the danger - that there even was a danger - until it had already happened. TheBoy has had a BB gun since he was 7 years old. He's welcome to shoot it any time he wants - but either the Mrs. or I need to be present (quite often I'll join him). Accidents can and do happen, and sometimes, even that one-in-a-million accident happens.

I don't mean to bash the family, far from it. This is a terrible tragedy, one I'm certain they never envisioned, but one that was entirely avoidable. We normally associate BB guns with "you'll shoot your eye out" from A Christmas Story, and in the huge majority of cases that's the worst thing that could happen. I'm sure no one expected one of the boys to be grievously injured from a BB gun; my intent for this post was to remind folks that even the seemingly innocuous BB gun can be deadly.

We disregard the four rules - even with air-powered arms - at our own grave peril.

That is all.


Bob S. said...

It supposedly was a common practice in some areas to use strike anywhere kitchen matches instead of BBs.

One pump (and 1 Pump only Vasily) with the match stuck down the end of the barrel.

Supposedly this practice in some areas continued under an unfortunate target was right next to the brick wall and the shot went high and wide. Strike anywhere matches can ignite off a brick surface supposedly and the supposed site of a young man hopping around trying to put out a fire in his hair could be a sight.

Unfortunate and sad that a child died but children have been dying of mischance as long as their have been kids.

David said...

When my son was 10-12 one of his friend's Dad would take the boys out into the desert to a deserted old homestead with the remains (foundations and partial walls) of several buildings. He would make sure the boys were all wearing long sleeve shirts, jeans, and full face guards. He would arm them with airsoft guns and let them play "war". He had a blast.

But for him, those trips were bookended by lectures from me about the four rules and overall gun safety. He seemed to understand that we were allowing him violate all those rules while playing airsoft war. At least as much as a 10-12 year old could understand that level of inconsistancy.

When he turned 13, instead of just watching I let him start cowboy action shooting. But he had to give up the airsoft trips. He was shooting real guns now in an environment where I was no longer standing right behind him watching he every move and action.

He really didn't understand my reasoning, but a year later we were visiting the Dad who took them out to play airsoft. The two boys were out in the garage shooting the airsoft guns at empty soda cans. The difference in their gun handling skills was remarkable. My son always kept the muzzle pointed at the cans and didn't play with the gun while waiting for his turn to shoot. The other boy was spinning the airsoft pistol on his finger, tossing it from hand to hand tucking it into his waist band, etc.

When the Dad handed me the new XD he had just gotten I was checking out the gun when the boys came over and wanted to see it also. I handed it to my son - watched him check that there was no mag, and lock back the slide while he checked the chamber. He felt how the gun felt in each hand, dry fired it at the cans, and then passed it over to his friend - who immediately slipped it into his front pocket like a holster, drew it, and dry-fired it at the cans, then spun it around his finger and tried to spin it back into his pocket. But I grabbed it out of his hand, and pointed out to him that he had not checked it to see if it was loaded, and in spinning it he had swept his Dad, my son, and himself with the muzzle.

His Dad was a little embarrassed and sent the kid into the house. My son and I left. On the way home my almost 14 year old son looked at me and said "OK, I understand why you made me stop playing airsoft-war. You didn't want me to develop bad habits that I might do something stupid with a real gun without thinking about it."

I was so proud of him I took him out to the range and let him shoot an entire brick of 22LRs.

Yes kids will do dumb things that may occasionally result in injury or death. My son (now 16) is still loaded with stupid and proves it on a regular basis, but never with firearms. With those he learned really early - even the toys aren't necessarily toys.

Jeff B said...

Years ago, in paramedic school, was doing a shift at the local trauma center to observe, learn, and do as many of my new skills as they'd let me.

Kid comes in, parents state "He got shot in the mouth." Odd, as he was walking, but whatever.

Turns out the kid let his pals shoot him in the mouth with a BB gun... on a dare.

A CT scan of his head showed the pellet.

That's a picture of the carotid artery. See that part where it splits into two, almost like a Y shape?

The BB was right between the two splits. A quarter inch down, left, or right, and he'd have been dead before dad could dial 9-1-1.

Yeah, his mom went pale as a sheet when the doctor told her that.

Mikael said...

I bought a .22 cal pelletgun, second hand, when I was 12, from saved up allowance money. Eventually bought a 2x scope for it too, had it for 4 year or so before selling it on to a younger friend, something I occasionally regret doing.

I was well aware that you shouldn't point it at people. Heck I remember testing it with a 50cl soda bottle filled with gelatin, it penetrated 8" after going through the plastic screw-on cork first.

I knew it was potentially lethal.

Coinciding with this, I was part of a pellet gun shooting club, I remember my best series was 188/200.

Phil L. said...

I don't recommend .22LR steel targets - or any such hard-surface targets - for use with steel BB's. BB simply bounce around too much for that sort of thing.

Meanwhile, lead pellets work well in airguns; they do the same thing a .22LR does when striking a steel target: Deform and fall quickly.

In today's climate, practicing with airguns suddenly makes lots of sense. I haven't seen ammo shortages!

BenC said...

When I got my first BB gun one of the first things I was told was not to point it at other people. Me and my cousins did not have BB wars our parents would have whipped us good(leather belt on butt).
In fact one of my cousins shot a friend of his and did get whipped by his dad.