Listening to marksman, engineer and firearms authority Tom Butters it becomes evident that he believes firearms-maker Remington is producing guns that are defective. In fact, in more than 100 claims of Remington guns malfunctioning, Butters has been an expert witness. Every time he is asked to testify he alleges the same facts: the Common Fire Control, or CFC, in Remington shotguns and rifles is faulty and can cause the guns to fire when jarred, and that Remington knows of this defect, and has for years, and that Remington continues to deny an issue exists.
Common Fire Control
The CFC is the firing mechanism of used in many Remington guns, and includes parts such as the trigger, hammer and a safety.
Exclusive to Remington, the manufacturer’s CFC has been used in production since 1948 in approximately 20 million firearms, representing nearly 20 different models of Remington firearms. In Remington’s CFC design, the safety locks the trigger; however, it does not keep internal components like the hammer, sear and firing pin from moving, according to CNBC.
Butters told CNBC that when debris gets into the CFC or the gun is dropped, bumped or jarred, the internal components can disengage causing the gun to fire without anyone having pulled the trigger. In an article discussing the possible malfunctions of Remington’s CFC, CNBC reported several instances of guns firing while the safety was still on.
As part of an investigation into malfunctioning CFCs, CNBC spoke with the engineer who originally designed the trigger for the Remington 700, and who, according to Remington’s internal memos, questioned the safety of the trigger system. So concerned about the trigger system’s safety, he continued to raise concerns even after he retired from the company.
Butters and other experts told CNBC that Remington knows about the defective guns and has not taken any steps to fix its CFC design, even after becoming aware that CFC malfunctions have led to tragic accidents.
An investigation by the NBC news program Rock Center uncovered at least 125 incidents of malfunctioning CFCs in Remington firearms since 1973. Those incidents caused 75 injuries and seven fatalities.
A 1984 accident, highlighted by CNBC, involving a retired police officer is illustrative of the dangers of malfunctioning CFCs. Out duck hunting in a boat, the man had his gun sitting on a boat seat with the safety on. When the gun began to slip off the seat, he reached for the gun, grabbing it by the barrel. Just as he was able to grab the barrel, the butt of the gun hit the bottom of the boat, causing the gun to fire and blow off two of the man’s fingers.
Even though he had been around guns for many years, the former police officer had never seen a gun fire with its safety on. So, he sent his gun to an independent forensics lab to be tested. According to CNBC, the lab’s tests were able to show the gun would fire with the safety on when dropped onto its butt end.
After the lab tests, the man wrote to Remington describing the accident. He then sent his gun to Remington for additional testing. After inspecting the gun, Remington informed the man that the gun was not defective. The company claims that it was unable to recreate the test results of the independent forensics lab.
Many lawsuits have been filed by people shot by guns with malfunctioning CFCs. In every case, Remington has stated that the guns it makes and the CFCs used in them are perfectly safe and not defective. Remington reiterated this point in a statement to CNBC after declining to be interviewed for the news piece. The company contends that all of the incidents of malfunctioning CFCs can be attributed to the fault of the gun owner or user, caused by modifications, poor maintenance or careless handling of the firearm.
What Can Be Done?
Typically, the federal Consumer Product Safety Commission protects the public by having companies recall defective and malfunctioning products. However, Congress has prohibited the agency from regulating firearms and ammunition.
In the absence of CPSC intervention, gun owners injured by defective Remington shotguns and rifles need to hold the firearms manufacturer accountable for its actions and inactions of failing to recall and replace or fix the CFCs it uses in its guns. If you or a loved one is injured by the involuntary firing of a Remington firearm, speak with an experienced personal injury attorney about filing a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit against Remington.