Thursday, July 10, 2014

Remington Model 700 Settlement Spurs Firearms Safety Reminder

Firearms safety is not merely the responsibility of someone handling a firearm. It is also most definitely the responsibility of firearms manufacturers who are obligated by ethics to produce firearms that are inherently safe. Remington Firearms has apparently finally come to that realization and reportedly filed a notice of settlement in a Missouri court, last week, in a lawsuit stemming from claim(s) that the trigger mechanism of its model 700 rifles was defective. That lawsuit was reportedly filed by Ian Pollard in 2013 and he claimed that his Remington model 700 has fired at least three times without the trigger being pulled. Although his lawsuit was filed in 2013, this was not a new problem with the model 700 and others had reported similar unintentional discharges of the model 700 for decades (source). Ultimately though, firearms safety depends greatly upon the person handling the firearm.

In 2000, a Remington model 700 fired accidentally when Barbara Barber reportedly turned the safety off on it in anticipation of unloading it (the model 700 then required that the safety be turned off to unload it but that has since been modified).  Her husband Richard Barber witnessed the alleged accidental discharge. The bullet from that shot struck and killed their 9 year old son Gus (source). Turning the safety off on a firearms should not fire the gun and Mr. Barber initiated an investigation of the model 700. He found that the Walker Fire Control mechanism in the trigger group was faulty and could cause a model 700 to fire when the safety was turned off or when the bolt of the rifle was operated - all without pulling the trigger. Remington replaced the Walker Fire Control with the X-Mark Pro in 2006 (source).

According to this source, Remington was aware of a potential problem with the trigger connector of the Walker Fire Control as early as 1948 when its inventor suggested modifications to it to prevent an accidental misalignment of parts in he trigger group. Remington seemingly came close to recalling the model 700 twice, once in 1979 and again in 1994 but reportedly abandoned that idea each time. Remington reportedly had claimed there was no defect in the model 700. It is unknown if Remington has admitted any fault in the current settlement.

While the Walker Fire Control may or may not be responsible for the unintentional discharges with Remington Model 700 rifles, one can never forget that one of the cardinal rules of firearms safety possibly was violated in the incident that led to the death of the Barbers' son. That rule - Always Keep The Muzzle Pointed In A Safe Direction - is an important one.  I do not know all of the specifics of this accidental shooting but I have to wonder, was the rifle, held and operated by Mrs. Barber, being pointed in a safe direction when their son was killed? Don't get me wrong. I am not trying to defend Remington for producing what may have been a defective firearm nor am I saying they manufactured a faulty firearm. I am saying that a design feature of the Remington Model 700 seemingly allowed the rifle to be fired without activating the trigger. Neither am I condemning the boy's mother for her actions in this tragic accident, I would guess she has suffered more than enough. The accident was the result of a culmination of various factors but I am guessing it could have been prevented had the rifle been pointed in a safe direction. So, what I am trying to do is to remind you of the importance of following firearms safety rules when handling firearms. Firearms safety is sort of like safety with fire along the lines of what Smoky The Bear used to say: "Only You Can Prevent Forest Fires". Well the same pretty much goes for accidental injuries with firearms: 'Only you can prevent unintentional injuries with firearms'. Manufacture of inherently safe firearms goes a long way to prevent such accidents but then again so too does adhering to firearms safety rules, like those suggested by the NRA, when handling firearms.

All the best,
Glenn B

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