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Trap Gun: An Unusual Firearm, Aimed at Wild Animals But Causing a Silent Epidemic of Human Fatalities

Kodikara, Sarathchandra MBBS, MD, DLM*; Kudagama, Muditha MBBS, MD, DLM

The American Journal of Forensic Medicine and Pathology: March 2014 - Volume 35 - Issue 1 - p 1–3
doi: 10.1097/PAF.0000000000000045
Case Reports

Among a variety of uncommon firearms of different origin used worldwide, the trap gun used in Sri Lanka is underreported. This is an illegal, locally made, smooth-bore, long-barreled, muzzle-loading firearm with a victim-activated simple trigger mechanism. It is mainly used to protect crops and livestock from the potential harm by wild animals.

Trap gun is mounted horizontally on pegs of sticks fixed to the ground. Miscellaneous metal pieces are used as ammunition. A small metal container filled with powdered matchstick heads/firecrackers covered by the striker surface of the matchstick box is used as the percussion cap. A metal hammer is set to hit the percussion cap. Through a lever mechanism, the hammer is kept under tension. The lever mechanism is connected to a trigger cord, which runs across the animal path. The first passerby, a human being or a wild animal, who accidentally trips the trigger cord and activates the trigger mechanism is critically injured. This characteristically damages the lower limbs of the human being.

This communication highlights a death due to trap gun injury. The injury pattern caused by trap gun could overlap with that of shotgun and rifled firearm. A meticulous autopsy could sort it out.

From the *Department of Forensic Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Peradeniya; and †General Hospital, Badulla, Sri Lanka.

Manuscript received March 19, 2012; accepted July 2, 2013.

The authors report no conflicts of interest.

Reprints: Sarathchandra Kodikara, MBBS, MD, DLM, Department of Forensic Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka. E-mail:

© 2014 by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.