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For an increasing number of Americans, the famous line in A Christmas Story “You’ll shoot your eye out” has become a reality. According to a study published in The Journal of Pediatrics eye injuries from air guns more than doubled between 1992 and 2012. But hang on Mrs. reports that . . .

The data, which came from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System, showed that on average, about 19,209 children were treated for such eye injuries each year, and there was a slight decline in the overall rate of eye injury.

“However, the rate of eye injury associated with non-powder guns — including BB, pellet and paintball guns — increased by almost 170%,” Smith said. “Non-powder-gun-related eye injuries accounted for 11% of eye injuries and almost half of hospitalizations reported during the study period.”

Fun fact: The Journal study reports that 89 percent of these injuries occur with no adult present. So what we have here isn’t a gun problem. It’s a failure to parent.

Saying that, I used to play unsupervised with ari guns and explosives, and somehow managed to enter adulthood with my sight and fingers attached.

No doubt countries that classify air guns as firearms “for the children” —  Canada, the UK, Australia, Germany and New Jersey — will use this study to vindicate their statist restrictions on anything that even looks like a “dangerous” gun. And continue to show screenings of A Christmas Story as a cautionary tale, rather than comic relief.


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  1. “It’s a failure to parent.”
    no it’s called letting them learn by their mistakes. you can’t follow your child around dictating everything they do. if you do it will only fuel their desire to rebel even more. all you can do is guide and offer advice.

    • Right – there’s lots of things that they can do unsupervised. Playing with airguns is not one of them. If they want to be unsupervised they can use the Nerf.

      • My adult daughter and her boyfriend have Nerf guns and those darts sting a tad. A direct hit to eye could do some serious damage.

      • What a load of crap. Children are smart enough to handle an airgun with no supervision. When I was a kid my Dad taught me how to shoot with one, gave me a pair of safety glasses, and let me have at it whenever I wanted. Never shot my eye out, always wore my safety glasses, and had a blast doing it.

        This helicopter parenting crap needs to die. It was a failure of the Boomer generation to raise children as helpless lumps of meat and now the Millennial generation by and large are a bunch of socialists pussies because of it. Children need to be given responsibility and trust. Without it they aren’t going to grow up to be functional adults.

    • Would you leave a toddler with a circular saw, and let him learn by his mistakes? Or send a 15-year old onto the freeway without any driver training? I hope not.
      There are things a responsible parent supervises many times before the child earns the trust to do those things unsupervised. Anything having to do with guns, powertools, or cars should be on that list.

  2. It includes Paintball which has only been a thing for a short while and is where you purposely shoot at each other. And since eye protection isn’t perfect, I’d like to see paintball/BB/airsoft ratios broken down in the data.

  3. Percentage increases are meaningless.

    Town has two four peple. Two are employed. One retires. Morning headlines scream “Town Unemployment Skyrockets to 50% !”

  4. As a 2A loving ophthalmologist, I suffer in some respects by living in NYC. But thankfully, given the antigun culture here, i haven’t had to treat an airgun eye injury in years.

    The first and last case was when I was a brand new resident, on one of my 1st solo on call shifts. A 15ish year old girl brought in to our level 1 trauma unit having been shot with a BB in the eye by her brother. The eye had to be enucleated (removed completely) which was just awful for her, her parents and her brother.

    • Terrible story. Effective social engineering aside, it still doesn’t justify the opressive firearms restrictions experienced by residents and vsitors of NYC.

      Allowing any state to tell you what legally produced, and 2A protected, product you can or cannot own or carry “for your own safety” is the abandonment of liberty and responsibility for the sake of safety. You know what’s been said about THAT strategy.

  5. My son’s friend had his eye shot out by his brother with a BB gun. Nobody made a big deal out of it. When I was a kid we used to have BB gun wars, we made a rule no head shots. Times have changed.

  6. My father blinded his brother in one eye with a rock when they were kids. A life long injury with a weapon provided by nature.

  7. Just read yesterday that an 8 year old girl was fatally injured after suffering a BB shot to her eye. Happened in northern Indiana so absolutely nothing surprises me there.

  8. Basically, BB guns and air guns are NOT toys and not be treated as such.

    If you want to play, use NERF guns (and note the part in the instructions about EYE protection). If you want to learn serious shooting, start with BB guns, air guns, and rimfire guns.

  9. “I used to play unsupervised with ari guns and explosives, and somehow managed to enter adulthood with my sight and fingers attached.”
    Me, too! And Frank Zappa. Read his book where he almost blows his nuts off combining cherry bombs to make one big one. I think its easy enough to see how that might happen…
    Meanwhile, this stat(if it’s even real) is quite obviously due to the massive increase in paintball activity over the years mentioned. Correlation is NOT causation. I don’t know why so many ‘educated’ professionals can’t figure that out. Its not that hard. I put it down to basketweaving and Psyc degrees not really being ‘education’ in the first place…

  10. I’m more serious about wearing eye protection with airguns than with firearms, given the much higher risk of richochet with airguns. I’ve been hit by richocheting BBs or pellets several times; one time probably would have cost me an eye if I had not been wearing safety glasses. Steel BBs richochet like nobody’s business.

  11. reminds me of a story my dad is fond of telling.. he and his older brother would take their younger brother, make him wear a heavy sweatshirt, clear welding goggles, and a football helmet.. they would go out on the front porch with bb guns, point across the field, and tell him ‘run’…

  12. Airsoft and paintball can explain pretty much all of that increase… although the increasing popularity of smaller (handgunish) bb guns might also have a part to play.


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