AIMS: To describe characteristics of a series of people accidentally and deliberately killed by air powered weapons. METHODS: Five cases of fatal airgun injury were identified by forensic pathologists and histopathologists. The circumstances surrounding the case, radiological examination, and pathological findings are described. The weapon characteristics are also reported. RESULTS: Three of the victims were adult men, one was a 16 year old boy, and one an eight year old child. Four of the airguns were .22 air rifles, the other a .177 air rifle. Two committed suicide, one person shooting himself in the head, the other in the chest. In both cases the guns were fired at contact range. Three of the cases were classified as accidents: in two the pellet penetrated into the head and in one the chest. CONCLUSIONS: One person each year dies from an air powered weapon injury in the United Kingdom. In addition there is considerable morbidity from airgun injuries. Fatalities and injuries are most commonly accidents, but deliberately inflicted injuries occur. Airguns are dangerous weapons when inappropriately handled and should not be considered as toys. Children should not play with airguns unsupervised.
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