If you have ever seen “A Christmas Story,” you know the line “You’ll shoot your eye out.” Nearly every authority figure in the movie says it over and over again to the main character, a fourth-grade boy named Ralphie who wants a BB gun for Christmas. Ralphie ends up getting his wish and actually does shoot himself in the eye when a BB ricochets off of a metal target.
Since the movie is a comedy, it would be easy to dismiss the incident as contrived. But 9-year-old Lane Foreman of Eustace, Texas, knows better.
“I know it really happens,” he said. “Because it nearly happened to me.”
Lane was playing with a BB gun over the holidays when one of his shots ricocheted off of a tree stump and hit him in the right eye. His family rushed him to a nearby emergency room, but his injury looked so bad that the staff decided he needed to be seen by pediatric trauma specialists. So, they referred him to Children’s.
“I thought he was going to lose his eye,” Lane’s mother, Tammy Foreman, said. “I thought he was going to be blind.”
Treat BB guns like ‘real’ guns
Stories like Lane’s fortunately don’t happen every day at Children’s. In 2010, there were 15 patients admitted to our Trauma service for gun-related incidents. Out of those 15, six involved BB guns.
“All BB guns aren’t the same,” Romo said. “Some are more powerful than others. And young children lack the developmental and coordination skills to assess danger and handle some of these powerful guns.”
Romo said that she advises parents not to buy BB guns for children younger than 14 but also understands that some parents will anyway.
“If parents are still going to buy them, then they should make sure their children wear protective gear like goggles and a vest,” she said. “They should also store the BB guns in gun safes or lockboxes if they have children of different age ranges. Treat them like real guns.”
No permanent damage for Lane
Lucky for Lane, his eyelid caught most of the BB that hit him and prevented permanent damage to his eyeball. He may need future surgery but is expected to completely recover.
The biggest worry he has now is that he misses being at Children’s.
“He told me the other day that he missed the room service and nurses,” Tammy said. “He took a picture with his nurses to show off to his buddies once he got back home.”
Lane is also informally educating other children about gun safety. He’s even using “A Christmas Story” as a teaching tool.
“When we went to a doctor’s office recently, he went up to a little kid and told him that movie is a great example of why you don’t need to be playing with BB guns,” Tammy said.