Remington Model 700 Rifle Dropped by Portland, Maine PoliceNov 1, 2010 | Parker Waichman LLP
The Remington Model 700 Rifle is being disavowed by yet another police department. According to USA Today, the police department in Portland, Maine has taken its five Remington Model 700s out of service, citing concerns over unintentional misfires.
The decision by the Portland Police Department came after CNBC aired an investigation of the Remington Model 700 that tied it to 24 deaths and hundreds of injuries. A series of lawsuits filed against Remington claim the Model 700 has a dangerous propensity to fire without a trigger pull. Such lawsuits allege that the rifle’s trigger mechanism, known as the “Walker Fire Control,” is defective.
According to documents obtained by CNBC, on at least two occasions, the company considered – and then decided against – a modification of the original trigger design intended to eliminate inadvertent discharges. The company’s own calculations show that one of the fixes considered would have cost a mere 5.5 cents per gun.
For its part, Remington maintains that the deaths and injuries involving the Model 700 have been the result of improper modifications, poor maintenance or unsafe handling. That defense has helped the company win some lawsuits. However, as we’ve reported previously, the company has also paid out about $20 million to settle such lawsuits out-of-court.
According to USA Today, CNBC revealed Remington Model 700 complaints from Portland police in 2009. It also included video taken by Portland snipers showing a rifle going off repeatedly when an officer touched the bolt. According to the department that rifle – the only one of its five to exhibit a problem – was never altered or modified in any way.
The department’s chief told local media that he decided to take the rifles out of service after he saw the CNBC report, and that prior to its airing, he was unaware that the rifle had been the subject of so many complaints. The Portland Police Department also contacted Remington about the problem but was told the weapons were no longer under warranty, USA Today said.
The Portland Police Department is not the only agency to have experienced problems with the Remington Model 700 rifle, USA Today said. The police department in Kissimmee, FL, sold its 700s after one inadvertently went off during a drug raid in 2005. The national police force of New Zealand has also stopped using the rifles because of safety concerns.
Inadvertent discharges of rifles at the Marine sniper training school at Camp Lejeune, NC also led to a meeting between corps officials and Remington. Eventually, the Marine Corps changed procedures for handling the rifles, USA Today said.