Defective Gun Dangers: An Overlooked Part of the Gun Safety Conversation

From YouTube’s headquarters in California to a high school in South Florida, violent people with guns have brought terror and tragedy to the United States in recent months. These incidents have ignited a heated debate over topics like gun restrictions and mental health limitations, and have made the gun debate nearly impossible to ignore.

But while much of the conversation focuses on dangerous people, one big question on gun safety has been mostly ignored. What happens when a defective gun causes harm?

Responsible People, Dangerous Guns

When talking about gun violence, it’s easy to focus on heinous crimes committed by dangerous individuals. But while guns do contribute to murders, suicides, and accidental deaths, guns are also used for necessary and positive reasons.

  • Personal protection and self-defense
  • Hunting, both for sport and necessary
  • Other recreational activities

The majority of people who own guns are responsible owners who know and respect the importance of gun safety. By following basic safety tips, many gun owners work hard to keep themselves and others safe.

Sometimes, though, the gun itself—not the owner—is the problem. Even when a gun owner follows every safety step, a defective or flawed gun can still cause serious injuries to the gun owner or others around them.

Types of Gun Defects

Injuries from defective guns are rare, but not entirely unheard of. In 2017, for example, gun manufacturer Taurus became the center of a class action lawsuit, sparked by the death of a young man  after his pistol went off in his holster. Along with going off while not in use, other common gun defects include:

  • Overly sensitive triggers
  • Failure to discharge
  • Delayed discharge
  • Failure to extract, which occurs when a used cartridge is not properly removed from the gun
  • “Rifle drop,” which happens when a dropped gun goes off upon hitting the ground
  • Issues from faulty gun accessories

Accidental gunshot wounds are the main consequences of these types of defects. If a defect causes a gun to go off when it shouldn’t, it could hit a nearby person. This can cause serious, sometimes immediately fatal injuries like brain or spinal trauma. Severe burns and lacerations, particularly to the face and upper body can also occur when a defect causes a gun to explode or misfire.

Lack of Regulation and Recalls

Despite the serious injuries that a defective gun can inflicted, defective firearms are rarely recalled over their flaws. This is because gun manufacturers are exempt from federal health and safety regulations. While a company that produces listeria-tainted lettuce might be forced to issue a recall by the Food and Drug Administration, firearms are not subjected to forced recalls from any federal organization. Due to the constitutional “right to bear arms,” the government does not have the ability to force recalls upon manufacturers of faulty guns.

This means that even if a gun’s defect is dangerous, the company does not have to issue a recall. They can essentially choose to ignore the dangers and continue selling their product, without any warning of the potential danger. Of course, they can—and should—issue voluntary recalls for the safety of their consumers, and responsible companies do.

In the case of the Taurus guns, the lawsuit eventually lead to the company issuing a voluntary recall. While it’s ultimately a good thing that the defective guns were recalled, the fact that it took a death and a class action lawsuit shows the challenges of gun defect liability.

Staying Aware

If you’re a gun owner, defects and flaws are an important thing to look out for. Often, the lack of federal regulation means that consumer must sometimes take their safety into their own hands. It might seem like a minor issue in the wake of so many instances of violence, but a misfire can be just as deadly as an intentional shot. Stay informed about gun issues just like you would about food, car, or product recalls—if you wouldn’t ignore a warning about your favorite brand or lecture or the airbags in your car, you shouldn’t ignore an issue with your firearm!

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The attorneys at Perenich, Caulfield, Avril & Noyes represent those involved in car accidents, motorcycle accidents, bicycle accidents, pedestrian accidents, and other types of personal injury matters. Our firm is one of the oldest personal injury law firms in Tampa Bay. There are no attorneys’ fees or costs unless we prevail for you. Call our office 24 hours a day at 727-796-8282 or simply click here to schedule a free case consultation.

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