BB gun deaths not uncommon, air rifles should be treated as firearms

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WHAS11.com

Posted on March 15, 2010 at 11:43 PM

Police call it a tragic accident that led to the death of an 11-year-old boy.

One that gun experts say it was preventable.

The accident happened Sunday night in the 9900 block of Donerail Way in Valley Station.

The victim and family members were playing with a Daisy air rifle  that pumps multiple times and fires BBs or pellets.

You might think it can't do any damage but it can.

Ray Word, a Conceal and Carry trainer, said, "Whether they're BB guns, hand guns, shot guns, or rifles, they're deadly weapons and they have to be treated as such."

He would agree that people likely don't consider a BB gun a firearm.

Word said, “It's the wrong attitude to have. Any weapon can prove to be deadly."

It's rare that someone dies after being shot by a BB gun but that's what happened to 11-year-old Dallas Barnes Monday night.

Police say he and his family, including his 16-year-old uncle, were playing with an unloaded BB gun and pellet guns in the small kitchen of this home all day.

"Another subject entered the home, loaded the bb gun unbeknownst to the uncle. They continued to play," said Lt. Barry Wilkerson.

He says the uncle, playing with the gun, shot the victim in the chest.

The BB penetrated the skin and entered the heart area which led to Dallas' death.

Wilkerson said, “It's something you don't hear every day. As kids we did the same thing.  We played with them. You're warned by your parents, 'you'll get your eye put out.' But nobody would ever think that something this tragic could happen."

Dr. Ronald Paul, Chief of Emergency Services at Kosair says in his 19 years there he's seen a lot of kids with significant injuries or death from an air powered rifle.

Paul said, “the muzzle velocity, the speed, can be anywhere from 150-1200 feet per second. If you think it’s close to you, that’s very fast."

Word has some advice for parents whose children have access to BB guns.

"You always treat every gun as if it's loaded.  Make certain of what's beyond your target and you check it and check it and check it again.”

Police say this death was an accident and the 16-year-old uncle will not faces charges.

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