BB Guns, Safety, & You:
A Tragic Lesson

Young Man Dies Following BB Gun Tragedy


Pictured: A BB Gun and box of BB-pellets. People have treated these as toys for years, but they can be used to kill.  

BB guns are a type of rifle that are treated as toys since they only use air to shoot small metal balls, rather than relying on the explosive force that gives bullets their fatal speeds.

An unfortunate incident involving a BB gun in Tampa, Florida led to a 17 year old dying after he was shot in the eye with one.  Although the majority of accidents involving BB guns are the result of the gun handlers failing to use eye protection, that wasn’t the case here.  The young man died as a result of his family-friend in the back seat – who was 8 years old – accidentally causing the gun to go off.

The two had been riding in the car with the 17-year-old friend-of-the-family in the front seat, and the adult driver’s children (including the 8 year old) riding in the back.  The incident began as the adult driver pulled up to an ATM and exited the car, leaving the minors unsupervised.

The youngest in the back seat, the 8-year-old was attempting to move the BB gun not knowing that it was loaded.  When the child moved the gun, it fired off a BB striking the 17-year-old front-passenger in the eye.

BB guns are widely seen as toys.  In reality, they are capable of major damage to property and (as is the case here) to lives. The companies that manufacture these devices often recommend the use of eye protection and to keep them out of the reach of young children.  Keeping a BB gun in the back seat of a car and accessible to unsupervised minors is a scenario that is not recommended.

The 8-year old who caused the gun to go off didn’t mean for it to do that.  Reports say the child explained they had been moving it out of the way so that they wouldn’t step on it and cause it to break when the incident occurred.

Regardless of the circumstance, there is a 17-year-old boy who lost his life because of an oversight of the adult in the car keeping a BB gun in their back seat.


1: Why should someone be charged – or why shouldn’t they be charged – in the death of the 17 year old in this case? Who is really to blame if anyone: the 8 year old, the adult driver who had left the BB gun in the back seat to begin with, or no one? Explain your answer.

2: If the adult driver had left a real firearm in the back seat, what would change about the case – how might it be handled differently? 

3: In the state of Nevada, what are some of the minimum and maximum consequences would the adult face for leaving a minor in the back seat with a loaded firearm accessible?

4: If the boy had been an adult themselves and shot a minor, what are the maximum and minimum charges they could face, if any? 

Be sure to provide full explanations for your answers.  For more details, you can read the article this piece was sourced from here


Contributed by: Joseph Motta

#2A, BB Guns, Courts & You, GCaY, Gun Safety, Law Related Education, LRE, Project REAL, Project Real Org, ProjectREALNV,

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