April 4, 2019

With so much focus on gun violence, it’s easy to forget that defective guns also kill—and they kill frequently. In fact, a report from the Violence Policy Center (VPC) underscores just how often firearms make their way into the hands of unsuspecting gun owners. According to the VPC, the National Shooting Sports Foundation tells us that as many as 40 percent of all new guns being made have some type of defect.

Just such an incident formed the basis for a case that was recently finalized in federal court. A lawsuit filed against Cobra Enterprises was “resolved amicably,” this past week, according to an attorney representing the plaintiff. The case involved gun owner Travis Barthel who says that his Derringer pistol, a 9 mm weapon made by Cobra, was inside his jacket pocket when he placed it on a table in his garage. The barrel subsequently fired a round, striking Barthel in the stomach. His injuries were quite significant; he required 16 units of blood during emergency treatment. In his suit against Cobra, Barthel claimed a defect in the weapon lead to its unintentional discharge. Apparently, the hammer was resting on the firing pen, even when the gun was not cocked, says the plaintiff. The details of the settlement were not revealed.

This incident occurred in Utah, but it could happen anywhere. This is more than just a case of buyer beware. The nation’s gun industry has a gaping hole where safety and health regulations should be. This lax and sometimes non-existent enforcement of safety standards means that there is essentially no one to police gun makers and no reason that they are compelled to fix defects unless gun owners bring them to court.

Nearly every consumer product that you can buy in the United States is subject to regulation. Toys, power tools, blenders, and other household and recreational goods are regulated by the Consumer Product Safety Commission. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration regulates cars, trucks, and other vehicles. And the Food and Drug Administration regulates prescription medication and food. Guns, however, are not subject to federal safety or health rules.

In 2013, gunmaker Remington came under fire following the deaths of at least 24 people and more than 100 serious shooting injuries linked to the unintentional misfiring of its Remington 700 series rifles. Following an expose by CNBC and a class action suit, Remington agreed to replace the triggers on 7.85 million rifles. This was an action by Remington that critics say was more than a half-century in the making.

As you can see, the scale of the issue is expansive; there are dozens of gun manufacturers with safety alerts and recalls at any given point in time, ranging from Beretta to Browning, Bushmaster and Smith & Wesson. The scariest part is that manufacturers are not required to police themselves, and many do not.

If you or someone you love was injured due to the faulty construction of a rifle, pistol, revolver, or other weapons, you may have grounds to hold the manufacturer or others responsible. Contact JML Law and our Los Angeles product liability attorney at 818-610-8800 now to discuss the details of your case.