OBJECTIVES: To describe the epidemiology of serious airgun injury in New Zealand. METHODS: Cases were selected from the New Zealand Health Information Service's hospital inpatient morbidity data files for the period 1979 to 1992 inclusive. RESULTS: There were 718 airgun related injuries resulting in 1.56 injuries/100,000 population/year. Males and 10-14 year olds had higher than average rates of injury. The majority of the incidents were unintentional. There has been a marked decline in injury rates since 1989. CONCLUSIONS: Airgun injuries, while not as serious as powder firearm injuries, account for a significant personal and societal burden. The results suggest that strategies aimed at controlling these injuries, especially those pertaining to children, are in need of review.
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