Shocking news: New study finds BB guns can be dangerous to kids

Folks, hold on to your hats. A new trauma study at Maricopa Medical Center in Phoenix has just been released with some shocking results:

Illustration Ryn Gargulinski

Illustration Ryn Gargulinski

BB and Pellet Guns May Pose Lethal Danger to Kids

Wow. If I didn’t get that one from the medical center’s news release, I was going to buy BB guns for all my toddler nephews and nieces this coming Christmas.

Got to love these studies, those that take x number of years and cost x millions of dollars just to state the obvious.

The BB gun study only took six years to complete and evaluated the results of 29 pediatric patients blasted by BB or pellet guns. Nine of those kids needed surgery; 17 suffered serious injuries; six suffered “significant morbidity” and two died.

I hope the kids were not shot on purpose just so the docs would have someone to study.

There was no mention of the cost of this particular study, but the release said the results, authored by Patrick J O’Neill, PhD, MD, and his trauma surgery and neurosurgery colleagues, has been published in the journal Pediatric Neurosurgery.

Anyone who saw the horrible movie “Orphan” witnessed the scene where the boy shoots a BB gun at a pigeon that falls over and bleeds excessively. That should have been enough proof that a BB gun could hurt small children, too.


Illustration Ryn Gargulinski

Other stupid studies throughout the years have included:

Study finds: Women don’t like to be told they look fat

Study finds: Bullies tend to have problems relating to others

Study finds: People who cannot afford cars are more likely to take public transit

Study finds: People put on more clothes when it’s cold

While those are real studies mentioned at, we can envision others that may be on an upcoming list:

Study finds: Most people don’t appreciate being punched in the face

Study finds: Hungry people tend to eat

Study finds: Sunlight fades fabric

Study finds: People say it hurts when you stick a fork in your eye

Did you know BB guns could be dangerous for kids?

What’s the most ridiculous study you can recall?


About Rynski

Writer, artist, performer who specializes in the weird, wacky and sometimes creepy. Learn more at
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61 Responses to Shocking news: New study finds BB guns can be dangerous to kids

  1. radmax says:

    Mornin’ Rynski! So BB guns are dangerous, who woulda thunk it. Maybe an in depth study of these idiotic studies is warranted…I’d be willing to pay for that.

    • Rynski says:

      Mornin’ Radmax! Yes, I cracked up when I read the release. Next they’ll be examining if sling shots can really knock out an eyeball. Study finds: Sling shots can, in fact, knock out an eyeball. Study finds: Yoyos can knock out your teeth.

  2. azmouse says:

    Ralphie could’ve told them you’ll shoot your eye out with one of those things.

    • Rynski says:

      hiya, AZMouse. who is ralphie? and is he missing an eye?

      • leftfield says:

        I’m shocked!  Can it be you have never seen Christmas Story?

      • azmouse says:

        I’m shocked too, leftfield…what kind of deprived childhood might Ryn have had? How can you celebrate the holiday season without “A Christmas Story’??

      • MarcyMom says:

        No offence taken. I appreciate your wit and humor. It’s highly valued in our family.

      • Rynski says:

        i’m chagrined to admit no, i’ve never seen christmas story. i was always too busy watching heat miser and snow miser and those mobile puppet things….but now I’ve GOT to see it! it sounds like we get a shot-out eye and a cool lamp in that one!

      • azmouse says:

        I love the heat miser too, but you haven’t lived until you see ‘A Christmas Story’! You gotta go rent it, then around Christmas time there should be places you can go buy that lamp or order it online!
        You are so gonna want that lamp….
        Sorry RadMax, but that lamp is sooo Ryn!

      • azmouse says:

        Thanks for the youtube video of the misers….good stuff.

      • azmouse says:

        Gotta see ‘A Christmas Story”.
        And you MUST have the lamp.

    • radmax says:

      Mornin’ az! One of my favorite movies! Look forward to it every Christmas. PS-Don’t let Rynski see the lamp the dad wins… 🙂

      • azmouse says:

        Morning Maxxie!
        Oh man….Ryn has GOT to get that lamp!!!!!!

      • MarcyMom says:

        We were busy cutting down our Christmas tree and Ryn didn’t have time to watch the movie. She was also chained to the kitchen counter decorating Christmas cookies. I myself found it an enjoyable, funny movie. Maybe I’ll send Ryn a copy for Christmas to make up for her tortured, deprived childhood. As for BB guns, one of my former students lost an eye when kids in his neighborhood decided to have some target practice.

      • azmouse says:

        Sorry MarcyMom. I certainly wasn’t trying to imply anything about Ryn’s childhood (gulp) I know she was probably spoiled and happy! 🙂

        Horrible story about one of your students.

      • Rynski says:

        tell us more about the kid who lost his eye. that’s sad. was his eye the target or did they miss the target?

      • radmax says:

        Rynski! You’ve have never seen this flick??? Well, you drew Ralphie to a “T”!

      • radmax says:

        Doh! “You’ve” or “have”-pick one.

      • azmouse says:

        Oh gosh, she DID draw a perfect Ralphie! Ryn is so intuitive.

      • Rynski says:

        which is ralphie? the steer skull or the bundled kid?

      • radmax says:

        Rynski…. 🙂

      • azmouse says:

        Okay Ryn,
        Ralphie’s a little dude who’s super cute (he looks like a mini Phil Donahue, remember him?) He has to get a Red Rider BB Gun for Christmas. That’s the main thing about the story, and whoever he tells about it, they say, “You’ll shoot your eye out!” It’s all the other antics that occur in the life of Ralphie and those around him as well. His Dad, who cusses like crazy, except when he’s cussing they aren’t real words coming out. He is also the very happy winner of a beautiful lamp. Picture a woman’s leg in a high heel, with a lampshade that looks like a hookers skirt. Dad HAS to have the lamp in the front window for the world to see, much to the dismay of Ralphie’s Mom. I believe when Ralphie first lays eyes on the lamp, he refers to it as ‘electric sex’. Ralphie and his crazy buddies who have to battle bullies and one who gets his tongue stuck to a frozen flagpole on the school grounds are very funny.
        I just know you’d love it.

      • Rynski says:

        Thanks for the movie synopsis, AZMouse. I shall put it on my “must watch” list along with Evil Dead 3 and Little Murders. Also – i KNOW THAT LAMP! Someone at has one exactly like you describe – it is hilarious, for sure.

      • azmouse says:

        I’m not surprised you’ve seen the lamp. Quite famous, and quite fragile……
        or in italian, ‘fraw-jeeee-lay”

        (once you see the flick, you’ll understand)

  3. leftfield says:

    On the face of it, it certainly seems like money and time spent to research the obvious.  However, I would imagine that this study goes way beyond the hypothesis that BB gun’s can cause injury.  Such information as treatments and outcomes can prove very useful to physicians. 

  4. azmouse says:

    When my son Wesley was 8 yrs old, he wanted a bb gun so bad for Christmas. I was against it completely and told him to think of something else.
    On Christmas morning I find out that Wesley’s Dad got him a bb gun behind my back.
    Then we went to my parents house to celebrate (we do this every year) and, low and behold, my Mom and Dad went against my wishes and had also gotten Wesley a bb gun.
    As you can tell, I garner much respect in my family because what I say goes! (not)

  5. MarcyMom says:

    My former student, an 8th grader, was just in the wrong place. Over the years, you realize that life can be fragile. He went on to high school and last I heard was adjusting. But my childhood years were filled with stories about young boys having tragic accidents playing with BB guns.  In the 40’s and 50’s it was a right of passage for young boys to own these guns, hence, the popularity of A Chiristmas Story.
    Lawn mowers can also be lethal weapons. A second grader lost a foot, a 16 year old died in an auto accident, and don’t forget cancer. It’s a wonder that we are still all  here commenting on these stories.

  6. Rynski says:

    p.s. didn’t dad run over a frog with the lawn mower?

  7. Patrick O says:

    As William Proxmire discovered, you can always get a laugh by ridiculing “studies” that establish “what everyone knows”.
    However, so much of what “everyone knows” is wrong, and “studies” are the only way we have to make decisions or policy as a nation.
    I just finished seeing a story in todays Star showing that frequent spanking of kids was not a good idea.
    It is just one of many “studies” going back for decades to establish this fact, but as you can see from the comments even reality is political and many commenters “disagree” with the study.
    Such studies do  not change these individual minds, but studies establishing “what everyone knows” serve a societal need when we establish public policy.

  8. R says:

    I have to laugh at the studies you are listing.  Do any of these researchers really have a brain, or do they just like to do something useless and spend our money.  Lord have mercy!  On the BB gun front, yeah they are dangerous and can be deadly.  Think about it, if you hit someone with your hand hard enough in the temple, it can kill them.  What would happen if you son shot your daugher?  My kids had BB guns, dart guns, paintball guns, you name it.  I was NOT thrilled, but I wasnt totally against them because I had control of when and where they could use them.  The danger was still there mind you, especially if they got mad at each other.  Would not repeat that mistake again.  They are all grown now.  I just have to add, weed eaters can be deadly.

  9. mорское says:

    we used to have bb gun fights all the time as kids. lots of welts and occasionally you had to dig a bb out. the digging was done with the trusty pocket knife.

    good thing there was no study done back then or we would have probably would have gotten hurt.

    • mорское says:

      “we would have probably would have gotten hurt”

      should read …………
      we probably would have gotten hurt.

      need to keep up on the grammar check so one does not get critiqued by others

      • Rynski says:

        ha – i’ll bet – no one gets hurt or injured until the study comes out and says they should. then everyone is suddenly in danger!

      • mорское says:

        to a great degree that is true. more in the form of “i am a victim”.

        those are days when you are old enough to know better, to young to care ……. going to live forever and i hope i never grow up.

      • azmouse says:

        That’s more how it was when I was a kid too. My brother and I would also have head-on collisions on our minibikes, try to ride one of our bulls, the one with the biggest horns of course, and we’d also ride horses down Tanque Verde wash bareback going as fast as we could, then we’d say ‘go’, throw our hands in the air and see who fell off their horse first.

        The good ol’ care free days of youth when nothing seemed to hurt ya.

    • Bjay says:

      “Back then” haha.
      Let’s see, we used to camp in an area with open mine pits you didn’t see until they were right there.
      When we got to the camp ground, our parents opened the door and pretty much were like, go have fun, we’ll see you when it’s time to go home.
      I used to lay across the ledge of the back car window on the highway and it was common to be in the back of a truck.
      My tween sisters and I were often not even in the neighborhood for the whole dang day.
      We also used to play in an old abandoned, falling apart brick mill.
      Luckily none of us got seriously injured aside from a concussion, cactus run-ins and bug bites and stings.

      • azmouse says:

        It’s true, isn’t it? My parents live on the northeast side of town. Horse property with five acres. Oh, the rattlesnakes we played with! There is also an old well-house on their property, which we were forbidden to go in, since we might fall in. Of course, we were in there all the time. lol

    • leftfield says:

      Does this mean you’ll be cancelling your subscription to Pediatric Neurology in protest?

  10. Bjay says:

    Azmouse…you beat me to the punch with the “You’ll shoot your eye out kid” line haha.
    Everybody has got to know the kid who wants an official Red Ryder carbine-action 200-shot range model BB rifle with a compass in the stock.
    That’s my husband’s favorite movie of all time.

  11. chronography says:

    Pernicious Nonsense.
    BB guns don’t hurt children.   Its those little copper spheres….

  12. Carl Lafong says:

    Firecrackers, cherry bombs,  M80s — those toys were even more fun than BB guns for the average eight to ten year old.

  13. Patrick J O'Neill, PhD, MD says:

    I was somewhat taken aback when I read the commentaries that criss-crossed the internet over a 30-hour time period last fall with regards to the study we published.  I feel compelled to correct some inaccuracies published by the blog creator, Ryn (and I assume this is their real name) in the name of fairness:
    1. “The study took 6 years to complete” — this is false.  As it is stated in the paper, “Charts were reviewed in patients identified to have sustained an injury from a nonpowder gun between January 1, 2001 and December 31, 2007”.  What this means is we used our trauma registry to identify patients with this particular injury and we only looked for such patients that came to the hospital during those time periods.  The actual study only took a few months.

    2.  “Got to love these studies, those that take x number of years and cost x millions of dollars just to state the obvious.” —  Please see answer 1 (above) to address the time issue.  Regarding cost, knowing where the data comes from is important.  In order to be a trauma center, a trauma registry must be kept.  The registry tracks all patients admitted to the hospital with injuries due to a trauma.  Part of the requirements of being a trauma center is to do research.  The most cost-effective manner to fulfill this goal is to use the registry as a data source.  After coming up with a hypothesis, the trauma registry may be queried for patients that fit that particular study population.  These data may then be analyzed to (hopefully) answer the hypothesis.  Since we are required to keep a registry and required to perform research in order to be credentialled as a trauma center (by the way, Maricopa Medical Center is one of only 13 medical centers in the country that has been verified by the American College of Surgeons as an Adult (Level I) and Pediatric (Level II) Trauma center as well as an Adult and Pediatric (Level I) Burn Center), there was no additional cost incurred to the taxpayer.  Further, neither I nor my co-authors were paid to engage in this research; it’s part of our job.

    While I will admit there are studies that seem to state the obvious that do exactly as you say (i.e., take years and cost millions), realize there is a wide-spread perception that BB/pelet (nonpowder) guns are simply toys — they are not!  Our goal for the research was to document that such “toys” are indeed lethal weapons and should be treated as such.  Remember, nobody died in “A Christmas Story” from a BB gun wounding whereas two young children died due to injuries from these weapons (not so funny if they were your children).  Where you fall on the issue of gun control is irrelevant.  These weapons can kill and adults need to supervise minors when (and if) they are allowed to use them.

    Thanks for the opportunity to clear up the errors.  PJO

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