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About 16 years ago, Montana man Richard Barber lost his 9-year-old son, Gus, after his Remington 700 accidentally fired without the trigger being pulled. Barber later settled a lawsuit against Remington, but went on to speak in public about a defective triggering mechanism in the rifle that remained a danger to other gun owners and their families.

Remington recently agreed to a recall of nearly 7.85 million rifles as part of a class action lawsuit settlement. If the judge approves the settlement, consumers could have their allegedly defective triggering mechanisms replaced free of charge.

Father Investigates Remington to Find the Truth

The Barber family was on a hunting trip when the incident occurred. Barber’s wife, Barbara, was preparing to unload the Remington 700 rifle when she released the safety. That action caused the gun to go off. The bullet went through a horse trailer and hit Gus. Barbara was unaware that her son had gone behind the trailer, and never expected the gun to go off because of a change in the safety switch.

The Barber’s son died three days later. Soon after, Richard Barber started hearing stories of other people who’d also experienced their guns going off unexpectedly. According to the Missoulian, he investigated these reports, and discovered that the rifle had what seemed to be a defective triggering mechanism that had been installed in millions of rifles.

Barber gathered thousands of documents showing that the company was aware of the defect, yet continued to produce the rifles without fixing it, and without notifying the public of the danger. “I believe I am quite capable of defending myself with Remington’s own documents,” he told Montana news outlet KPAX, “which speak for themselves and clearly speak volumes about what the company knew, when they knew it, and what they did or did not do with that body of knowledge.”

Remington’s Previous Recalls Inadequate

Remington has continued to deny any wrongdoing, but they have agreed to the aforementioned recall as part of a settlement with a number of consumers who claimed to have suffered serious injuries after the guns fired inadvertently.

So far, two dozen deaths and more than 100 serious injuries have been linked to the trigger, though Remington disputes those numbers, maintaining that the accidents were caused by user error. They agreed to the latest recall as part of a lawsuit settlement in federal court in Missouri, stating that they were agreeing to the changes “to avoid the uncertainties and expense of protracted litigation.”

The company had previously recalled two models of the rifle, claiming on their website that some of the rifles “could, under certain circumstances, unintentionally discharge.” They maintained that they had “the utmost confidence” in the design of the trigger mechanism, but are implementing the recall “in the interest of consumer safety.”

They took this action only after discovering during litigation that the assembly process for their newer X-Mark Pro trigger mechanism allegedly created the potential for the application of an excess amount of bonding agent, which could then cause the Model 700 and Model Seven bolt-action rifles to discharge without a trigger pull under some conditions. The company offered to clean the excess agent from consumers’ rifles, and improved its assembly process so there was no longer the potential for excessive application.

The company still did not address the issue of its other rifles that were equipped with the older and allegedly faulty “Walker” trigger mechanism, however, the mechanism most commonly at issue in Remington lawsuits. Plaintiffs maintain that small amounts of debris can push the connector out of alignment, allegedly raising the risk that the gun will inadvertently fire. They demanded that Remington replace this faulty mechanism with the newer X-Mark Pro. Remington has finally agreed to do that, should the judge approve the settlement.

Upon hearing of the recall agreement, Barber said he hopes he and his family can get on with life. “When Gus was killed,” he told the Missoulian, “nobody knew anything about (the defective trigger mechanism). It was all concealed in our courtrooms. I sought to put an end to that. … My message is that secrecy kills.”

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