On Monday night, a 10-year-old Alexandria boy was shot in the neck by a BB gun while playing in his front yard. Alexandria police were called to the 3600 block of Edison Street at around 8 p.m. on Nov. 1, to investigate the incident. The victim was playing in his front yard when a group of juveniles, in nearby bushes, shot him in the neck with a BB gun. The child was transported to Inova Fairfax Hospital and admitted for treatment. He is expected to fully recover.
“We suspect it was just a group of kids and is not connected to the incident a couple of weeks ago on the west end of the city where several cars were struck with BBs,” said Cpt. John Crawford, a spokesperson for the Alexandria Police Department.
This is not the first time a child has been hit by BBs. This summer, a 7 year old was struck in the head by a BB, fired from a BB gun by a 15 year old. That suspect was caught and charged with felonious assault, discharging a weapon in the city limits and illegal possession of a firearm, according to police.
“While it is not necessarily illegal to possess a BB gun, it is illegal to discharge a BB gun in the city of Alexandria,” said Amy Bertsch, a spokesperson for the Alexandria Police Department. “Unfortunately, people don’t take BB guns as seriously as they should. They are very dangerous.”
The American Academy of Pediatrics agrees. In the November issue of Pediatrics, they concluded that “nonpowder guns — ball-bearing (BB) guns, pellet guns, air rifles, and paintball guns — are extremely powerful and can cause serious injury, disability and even death to children and adolescents.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U. S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, there were approximately 21,840 nonpowder gun-related injuries treated in emergency departments in 2000. Each year, approximately 3.2 million nonpowder guns are sold in U.S. department stores including toy stores. The popularity of war and paintball games contributes to higher sales and subsequent accidents, especially eye-related, according to CDC and CPSC data.
While nonpowder guns use compressed air instead of gunpowder to launch projectiles, they are often nearly as powerful as traditional firearms. According to the CPSC, 80 percent of nonpowder guns have muzzle velocities at 350 to 450 feet per second. A traditional pistol has a muzzle velocity of 750 feet per second to 1,450 per second. Eye penetration can occur at a muzzle velocity at 130 feet per second. Of the reported nonpowder gun injuries in 2000, approximately 12 percent were to the eye, 24 percent to the head, 62 percent to extremities and 1 percent to other body areas. Most victims were male.