What You Should Know Before Buying a BB Gun for Your Child

December 15, 2006 -- Posted at 6:10 p.m. CST

JONESBORO, AR -- For young boys a BB gun is like a right of passage.  It is the first step to gun ownership.

"My first BB gun... I shot a little bit of everything.  I shot grasshoppers in the summer and paper targets," said Kevin Staggs.

Staggs manages the sporting goods department at Wal-Mart.  During Christmas the BB gun is one of their top sellers.

"When parents come in looking for a BB gun I usually tell them to look at the age of the child and the type of BB gun they're looking at," said Staggs.

The manufacturer doesn't recommend BB guns for anyone under the age of ten.  Different models have different age recommendations just check the box to make sure.

There are two types of BB guns:  a lower powered BB gun and a higher powered BB gun. The higher powered one packs almost as much power as a rifle and it could cause a serious injury, even death if used improperly.

"The biggest misconception is that BB guns are harmless.  They are not harmless.  Approximately four people die each year from misuse of BB guns," said Kevin Molder, Chief Deputy at the Poinsett County Sheriff's Department.

Many see BB guns as the first step to having a larger weapon, but remember a BB gun is a weapon and it should be treated that way.

"Kids need to be as safe with a BB gun as they would with any other firearm.  It's just as dangerous as a shot gun or a rifle," said Staggs.

There are gun safety classes offered through different organizations like the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission.

"It's a really good program that any child that wants a BB gun, a hand gun, or a rifle should take," said Molder.

The most important thing to remember if you get your child a BB gun is to supervise them while they use it.

For more information about gun safety click here.