(Received 8 October 1988; accepted 13 June 1989)
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Accidental deaths due to discharge of dropped handguns have been previously reported. In this report, the authors review the history and design of the derringer handgun and describe three cases of accidental death due to discharge of derringer-type handguns. In two of these cases, the gun was dropped, resulting in a fatal discharge. The design of the derringer and the absence of a safety feature are cited as underlying factors. If the alleged weapon can be obtained, testing may demonstrate that discharge could occur if the gun were dropped.
Medical student, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC
Chief medical examiner, State of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC
Medical examiner specialist, Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, State of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC
Stock #: JFS12880J