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Potato guns aren't toys to those they have maimed
The State ^ | Jul. 14, 2003 | PEYTON D. WOODSON

Posted on 07/15/2003 7:15:04 PM PDT by aomagrat

Denton, Texas -- Two months ago, Daniel Berry looked forward to his 18th birthday and fulfilling his childhood aspiration to become an Air Force pilot.

Now, his nights are filled with thoughts of seeing again.

"I dream that I'm running somewhere," Berry said. "I blink my eyes and I can see. Then I blink my eyes again and I can't."

Berry, 17, was blinded April 13 in an accident with a potato gun, a homemade device that combines a long plastic tube or pipe with a propellant such as hair spray to fire projectiles several hundred feet.

In this case, the projectile was a live frog.

Although the fuse was lit, the gun didn't fire, and Berry looked down the barrel to see what was wrong. Suddenly, the gun went off.

"Everything went red and black," he said. "I felt pain, but it was past that. It was pain you don't feel, but you know it's there. As soon as I got to the hospital, I passed out."

No national statistics are available, but the guns have been blamed for several serious injuries. Most involve eye trauma, but in April, a Minnesota boy's lung was punctured by a screwdriver launched from a potato gun.

Berry said he had never heard of potato guns until he and his younger brother, C.W., spotted several college-age youths using them to launch cans of corn, bags of rice and eventually live frogs.

"They said, 'You want to shoot one?'" Berry said. "I was like, 'Sure.'"

READILY AVAILABLE

Thanks to the Internet, the guns are easy to come by.

Hundreds of Web sites offer instructions on how to make them using materials from hardware stores. Other sites sell the guns, starting at about $55.

Joel Suprise, owner of the Internet-based Spudgun Technology Center, said he fills about 100 orders a month for launchers and components. The majority of his customers are male, he said. Some are physics teachers or professors.

"My mantra is, if it makes noise and will toss something further than you can throw it, guys love it," he said. "Despite the fact they are for fun and entertainment, they can be dangerous when used inappropriately or in an unsafe manner."

Some U.S. cities have banned the devices. They are illegal in Texas, but cases, including the one involving Berry, are rarely prosecuted.

The federal government does not prohibit them.

"We consider them to be recreational devices," said Gary Comerford, a spokesman for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

"We don't consider them to be firearms or destructive devices. When they're used as they are intended, we don't consider them regulated."

'THEY'RE EXTREMELY UNSTABLE'

Andy Johnson, a Southlake pilot, was partially blinded six years ago after he built a potato gun for his two sons.

Johnson, 50, said his children found the device when he was away from home. They loaded it with fuel but could not make it work and later asked Johnson to inspect it.

"I just reached over to take it out of his hand," he said. "He hit the firing mechanism and it fired."

The gun wasn't loaded, but a tiny fragment of metal hit Johnson in the right eye.

"The problem with potato guns is they're extremely unstable," he said. "If you're going to handle one, you have to assume it can fire at any time."

Dr. Ron Danis, a professor of ophthalmology at the Indiana University School of Medicine, said the devices are as dangerous as BB or pellet guns.

"The message is, these nonofficial guns are toys, so we have this sense that they're not as dangerous," said Danis, who has treated a potato gun victim. "This cavalier attitude makes the risk of injury greater."

Berry, who was attending classes at a local business school, had wanted to enlist in the Air Force at age 17, with his parents' permission. But they told him to wait until he was 18. They were afraid of the threat of war.

Berry's future is uncertain now, but he is dealing with his blindness. Details such as which clothes he wears remain important.

He playfully argues with his parents over whether a favorite shirt features a design of a cartoon bear or lion. He still wakes up each morning and listens to cartoons or "The Jerry Springer Show."

"He has a really good attitude," said his mother, Lisa Berry. "Mine wouldn't be as good."

Berry said he has formed his own opinions about potato guns.

"Don't buy them. They're guns," he said. "Don't look down the barrel of any kind of weapon."


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Miscellaneous
KEYWORDS: potatogun; stupidpeople
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Paging Dr. Darwin
1 posted on 07/15/2003 7:15:04 PM PDT by aomagrat
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2 posted on 07/15/2003 7:16:56 PM PDT by Support Free Republic (Your support keeps Free Republic going strong!)
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To: Chad Fairbanks
Ping, Mr. Potato Gun.
3 posted on 07/15/2003 7:17:28 PM PDT by DaughterOfAnIwoJimaVet (I am in a promising local band.)
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To: aomagrat
I believe this story has made the rounds of FR at least once and it wasn't recently......
4 posted on 07/15/2003 7:18:30 PM PDT by tubebender (FReepin Awesome...)
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To: aomagrat
Although the fuse was lit, the gun didn't fire, and Berry looked down the barrel to see what was wrong. Suddenly, the gun went off.

And this guy wanted us to trust him with fifty megabucks worth of government property?

5 posted on 07/15/2003 7:19:13 PM PDT by Poohbah (Crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and hear the lamentations of their women.)
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To: aomagrat
hough the fuse was lit, the gun didn't fire, and Berry looked down the barrel to see what was wrong. Suddenly, the gun went off.

"Everything went red and black," he said.

Is he sure it wasn't red and green?

6 posted on 07/15/2003 7:20:26 PM PDT by Paleo Conservative (Do not remove this tag under penalty of law.)
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To: aomagrat
neither are bicycles tricycles skateboards surfboards boats dirt bikes jet skis snowmobiles xcountry skies snow boards and blenders.....
activity hurts people...cease all activity and only suffer bed sores
7 posted on 07/15/2003 7:21:18 PM PDT by joesnuffy (Moderate Islam Is For Dilettantes)
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To: aomagrat
With all due respect, I don't think he was Air Force material.
8 posted on 07/15/2003 7:22:32 PM PDT by x1stcav ( HOOAHH!)
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To: aomagrat
Think of it as Evolution in Action

So9

9 posted on 07/15/2003 7:23:55 PM PDT by Servant of the Nine (Real Texicans; we're grizzled, we're grumpy and we're armed)
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To: aomagrat

Gee, I've had a Potato gun for at least the last 15 years and have never harmed myself or anyone with it.

Darwin award for sure.

10 posted on 07/15/2003 7:24:38 PM PDT by Malsua (ew)
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To: aomagrat
Here is the post...http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/894627/posts
11 posted on 07/15/2003 7:25:57 PM PDT by tubebender (FReepin Awesome...)
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To: aomagrat
I've long felt that a big part of the problem is modern attitudes about how to raise kids.

Today, we try to childproof the world. In the old days (and when I grew up), they tried to worldproof the child.

Today, by safety crusaders trying to remove/ban everything that could even scratch someone, it gives kids a false sense of security. They think that the entire world has been "safed" for them, they don't think about the dangers inherent in every activity, and eventually they run into something that's going to bite them on the ass -- if not while kids, then when they go out into the adult world.

Back in the "good old days", kids played with sharp sticks, darts, cap guns, firecrackers, etc., and learned very early on that a) they're not invulnerable, and b) just about anything can cause damage/pain to you if you don't use your head about being appropriately careful. As a result, they were far less likely to do something dangerously foolish the rest of their lives (at least not through blissful carelessness).

12 posted on 07/15/2003 7:29:01 PM PDT by Ichneumon
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To: Malsua
gee...this exceeds 50 cal doesnt it??
13 posted on 07/15/2003 7:31:56 PM PDT by MichaelDammit (unless its GOOD beer, it aint worth having....)
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To: aomagrat
My daughter and a classmate made a potato gun for a freshman science class. they received A Grades. They videotaped their results and my daugher produced a Power Point presentation and the Power Point and video clip was shown on a laptop!

This year We built a cradel for the potatoe gun and my daughter calculated ranges based on barrel elevation. I helped her measure the results and she competed in the Dallas County Science Fair.

Next year I hope that she will prepare a paper on the NASA supergun that is being developed at White Sands.

Guns in the hands of fools are dangerous. Kinda like Al_Blore looking down the barrel of his M-16 which has been posted here many times.

14 posted on 07/15/2003 7:32:57 PM PDT by Young Werther
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To: aomagrat
I don't think they even let mentally retarded boys be Air Force pilots.
15 posted on 07/15/2003 7:36:24 PM PDT by Sloth ("I feel like I'm taking crazy pills!" -- Jacobim Mugatu, 'Zoolander')
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To: joesnuffy
ROFLMAO!!
16 posted on 07/15/2003 7:38:35 PM PDT by ysoitanly
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To: aomagrat
The safetycrats will come after potato guns next. "You can put your eye out with one of those things, ya know!"
17 posted on 07/15/2003 7:38:46 PM PDT by IronJack
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To: Ichneumon
That was an interesting observation.

When my kids were little, they would reach up for the burner on the stove. My wife wanted me to turn it off. Instead, I turned it down. I left it hot enough so that they would realize that it wasn't the place to play, but not so hot that they would get severely burned. Naturally, I simultaneously informed them to stay away from the burners, knowing that kids will be kids.
18 posted on 07/15/2003 7:38:51 PM PDT by the_Watchman
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To: aomagrat
"Don't buy them. They're guns," he said.

Something wrong with buying guns?

19 posted on 07/15/2003 7:39:11 PM PDT by squidly
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To: aomagrat
Although the fuse was lit, the gun didn't fire, and Berry looked down the barrel to see what was wrong. Suddenly, the gun went off.

Let's face it: we don't want to see this guy in a fighter jet cockpit.

20 posted on 07/15/2003 7:40:43 PM PDT by xm177e2 (Stalinists, Maoists, Ba'athists, Pacifists: Why are they always on the same side?)
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To: aomagrat
In this case, the projectile was a live frog.

I don't know that I've ever seen data on the ballistic coefficient of a live frog but it can't be optimal. Now sectional density might be something else.
21 posted on 07/15/2003 7:41:40 PM PDT by x1stcav ( HOOAHH!)
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To: HairOfTheDog
Hey hair... can you ping the potato cannon list? :-)
22 posted on 07/15/2003 7:42:58 PM PDT by Ramius
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To: aomagrat
Obviously, a new organization must be formed to deal with this menace - Potato Control, Inc.
23 posted on 07/15/2003 7:43:38 PM PDT by HAL9000
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To: MichaelDammit

I dunno...lemme measure it.

38 Millimeter(1.5 inches) or essentialy, 150 Calibre :)

Think Howitzer :)

24 posted on 07/15/2003 7:45:21 PM PDT by Malsua (ew)
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To: HAL9000; aomagrat
Obviously, a new organization must be formed to deal with this menace - Potato Control, Inc.

If potatoes are banned, only outlaws will have potatoes.

25 posted on 07/15/2003 7:46:56 PM PDT by Paleo Conservative (Do not remove this tag under penalty of law.)
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To: squidly
Something wrong with buying guns?

Merely buying the gun sets in motion an inexorable chain of events, all leading to maimed children. Haven't you heard?

26 posted on 07/15/2003 7:47:18 PM PDT by Trailerpark Badass
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To: aomagrat
He playfully argues with his parents over whether a favorite shirt features a design of a cartoon bear or lion. He still wakes up each morning and listens to cartoons or "The Jerry Springer Show."

It's all starting to make sense now...

27 posted on 07/15/2003 7:53:06 PM PDT by Trailerpark Badass
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To: aomagrat
For God's sake! Doesn't anybody give a sh** about that poor frog??? Where is PETA when you need them.
28 posted on 07/15/2003 7:53:13 PM PDT by Grizzly Bear
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To: x1stcav
Did the frog croak?
29 posted on 07/15/2003 7:54:55 PM PDT by irishtenor (My God is omnipotent, sorry about yours. *** Swarming Calvinists Unite!***)
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To: Grizzly Bear; hchutch
For God's sake! Doesn't anybody give a sh** about that poor frog??? Where is PETA when you need them.

You're right. That guy's a sick (expletive deleted) for doing that to a live frog.

Folks like that often graduate to people when doing to animals just doesn't give that thrill any longer.

30 posted on 07/15/2003 7:55:21 PM PDT by Poohbah (Crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and hear the lamentations of their women.)
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To: Paleo Conservative
The west wasn't won with a regestered potato.
31 posted on 07/15/2003 7:56:04 PM PDT by irishtenor (My God is omnipotent, sorry about yours. *** Swarming Calvinists Unite!***)
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To: irishtenor
I don't know.

It is difficult on the best of dyas to figure what a frog thinks, they being so inscrutable and all. But I can tell you the last thing that went through its mind.
32 posted on 07/15/2003 7:59:04 PM PDT by x1stcav ( HOOAHH!)
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To: x1stcav
But I can tell you the last thing that went through its mind.

This idiot's eyeballs? :o)

33 posted on 07/15/2003 7:59:54 PM PDT by Poohbah (Crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and hear the lamentations of their women.)
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To: x1stcav
I don't know that I've ever seen data on the ballistic coefficient of a live frog but it can't be optimal. Now sectional density might be something else.

I would like to thank you for giving me the idea for my upcoming doctoral dissertation, which will be titled,

An Analysis of the Ballistic Coefficients and Aerodynamic Characteristics of Live and Deceased Members of the American Toad Species (Bufo Americanus), by Luke Skyfreeper

34 posted on 07/15/2003 8:00:30 PM PDT by Luke Skyfreeper
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To: Poohbah
Not exactly. More than likely the frog's a**hole.
35 posted on 07/15/2003 8:00:47 PM PDT by x1stcav ( HOOAHH!)
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To: x1stcav
The frog's mind wasn't in one piece long enough for his a**hole to go through it. :o)

Hypervelocity eyeball-piercing "Green Bullet" frog.

36 posted on 07/15/2003 8:02:06 PM PDT by Poohbah (Crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and hear the lamentations of their women.)
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To: aomagrat
Eat a live frog in the morning....
37 posted on 07/15/2003 8:07:52 PM PDT by Ronin (Qui tacet consentit!)
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To: x1stcav
Yes, I know:>) As the frog said as it hit a concrete wall... Dam!
38 posted on 07/15/2003 8:10:42 PM PDT by irishtenor (My God is omnipotent, sorry about yours. *** Swarming Calvinists Unite!***)
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To: Poohbah
"Gimme a match. I think my gas tank is empty."

Reminds me of some joke about a guy checking to see if something was coming by sticking his head where he shouldn't
have. It was. Age 39.

39 posted on 07/15/2003 8:10:52 PM PDT by Calvin Locke
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To: Paleo Conservative
I heard the one about what's red and green and goes a thousand
miles an hour, but I don't think it had a cannon in it...
40 posted on 07/15/2003 8:15:46 PM PDT by Calvin Locke
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To: Calvin Locke; Poohbah
That's one way to make sure yopu never complain about growing old.
41 posted on 07/15/2003 8:17:50 PM PDT by hchutch (The National League needs to adopt the designated hitter rule.)
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To: irishtenor
We've had some fun with this tonight but, seriously, this kid had a precondition of major brain damge. In this day and age, who'd actually admit to using live frog projo's?

As opposed to a friend who in an earlier career was a brigade commander of Ghurka Rifles. Seems they used to delight in firing cats from their howitzers when saluting during parades, etc. for visiting members of other militaries.

They thought us Yanks were a particularly squemish lot when uniforms had to cleaned afterward. They not only found this delightful but they were wholly unapologetic about it.

Then there was the incident with the visiting US Congresswoman, but this was apprently written off a zany Brit behavior.
42 posted on 07/15/2003 8:17:58 PM PDT by x1stcav ( HOOAHH!)
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To: mhking
PING!
43 posted on 07/15/2003 8:18:09 PM PDT by WorkingClassFilth (Defund NPR, PBS and the LSC.)
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To: WorkingClassFilth
My wife makes this stuff called "Frog-Eye Salad". I wonder...
44 posted on 07/15/2003 8:24:00 PM PDT by Sangamon Kid
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To: aomagrat
looks like we might need some democrat to draft a bill for a mandatory 5 day waiting period for PVC pipe, and frogs.
45 posted on 07/15/2003 8:27:50 PM PDT by arly
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To: aomagrat
Denton, Texas -- Two months ago, Daniel Berry looked forward to his 18th birthday and fulfilling his childhood aspiration to become an Air Force pilot... Although the fuse (of the potato gun) was lit, the gun didn't fire, and Berry looked down the barrel to see what was wrong. Suddenly, the gun went off...

Definite Air Force material...

46 posted on 07/15/2003 8:27:59 PM PDT by pabianice
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To: aomagrat
>>>Denton, Texas

DUDE!!! I moved from there a year ago!! AHHH!!!

>>>"Don't look down the barrel of any kind of weapon."

Uh, yeah.

47 posted on 07/15/2003 8:30:28 PM PDT by 4mycountry (Sometimes you're Riff, sometimes you're Torg.)
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To: aomagrat
"off we go...into the wild blue yonder"
48 posted on 07/15/2003 8:31:58 PM PDT by arly
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To: x1stcav
I am a pyrotechnic worker who does about 4-5 shows a year. One thing we are always taught... don't stick your head over the mortar!!!!!!! Things happen.
49 posted on 07/15/2003 8:32:11 PM PDT by irishtenor (My God is omnipotent, sorry about yours. *** Swarming Calvinists Unite!***)
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To: aomagrat
All your potato are belong to us.
50 posted on 07/15/2003 8:33:54 PM PDT by Principled
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