Airsoft gun's shot not so soft

2:31 PM, Mar 29, 2007   |    comments
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Twelve-year-old Ethan Carpenter of Plymouth wears a white patch over his right eye to protect it from further injury. Last week, while Carpenter was jumping on a trampoline at his friend's house, his friend surprised him by pulling out an airsoft gun and shooting at him. The pellet hit Ethan directly in the eye. "It felt like a bee had just stung me," Carpenter said. Carpenter's eye doctor says he will have a lifetime risk of glaucoma and he may develop an early cataract. Dr. John Berestka of Northwest Eye Clinic says, including Carpenter, he and his partners have treated 10 people hit by airsoft guns in the eye over the last three years. "I've had one patient lose their entire eye," Berestka said. Retailers say airsoft guns are not as powerful as BB guns and they use plastic instead of metal pellets. "The guns are not toys. They do shoot up to three to four hundred feet per second," according to Rick Michel, owner of CC Military Surplus in Maplewood. Michel only sells the guns to adults, but he says they can be safe for kids to use, if they wear protective eyewear and if parents supervise. "You definitely need to have the appropriate safety gear," Michel said. Carpenter was shot in Golden Valley, where police say it's legal to own an airsoft gun, but it's illegal to discharge it. Golden Valley police say Carpenter's friend could be charged with a misdemeanor, or he may be ordered to perform community service. Either way, Ethan Carpenter's mom Julie wants kids and parents to learn from her son's injury. "They (kids) get excited that they have this toy and they use it and they don't use it properly and I think that they are very dangerous. I think they are a lot more dangerous than people realize."

By Julianna Olsen, KARE 11 News

(Copyright 2007 by KARE. All Rights Reserved.)

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