The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 30,000 people annually suffer injuries from BB guns or pellet guns. The classic Red Ryder gun, manufactured by Daisy, reaches a muzzle velocity of 350 feet per second -- almost 239 mph. Other BB guns can reach even higher velocities. By comparison, a .22-caliber pistol round reaches a velocity of 1000 fps. BB guns may seem like toys, but they wound, maim and kill like other guns.
BB gun injuries to the eye can inflict permanent damage. A 1997 American Academy of Pediatrics study on air-gun-related eye injuries found that 66 percent of victims suffered permanent partial vision loss or blindness. A 2008 British study, supported by the Charitable Trusts for the United Bristol Hospitals' Medical Research Committee, found similar results: 65 percent of victims suffered vision loss or blindness.
Any projectile can injure the skin, especially one that travels over 200 mph. BB guns can cause severe bruising, skin lacerations and deep puncture wounds. Pellets can become embedded in the skin, where they increase infection risk and may require minor surgery to be removed.
The nature of BB gun wounds makes them prone to infection. Like other puncture wounds, such as stepping on a nail, the BB can drive bacteria deep into a wound, increasing infection risk. In one extreme incident in 1992, a Philadelphia man died from a bacterial infection after a BB lodged in his brain.
The U.S. Consumer Safety Commission estimates that BB guns and pellet guns cause four deaths annually in the United States. The chances of death from a BB gun wound, while statistically low, increase at close range. According to the "Orange County Register," a Laguna Hills, California, teenage boy died in 2009 after being shot through the temple with a BB gun. In 2008, a six-year-old Detroit boy died when shot point blank with a BB gun.