Remington responds to CBS story on safety of popular Model 700 rifle
Company says broadcast omitted key information
By Dan Hansen
Madison, N.C. — Since its 1962 introduction, along with the popular 7mm Remington Magnum cartridge, more than 7.5 million Model 700 (and the scaled-down action Model 7) rifles have been sold. The rifles have been offered in several configurations, and chambered for virtually every modern centerfire cartridge.
Over the past five decades, the Remington Model 700 became the most popular bolt-action rifle among American hunters, target shooters, law enforcement and military personnel.
The rifle also became a target for television networks that regularly portray guns and gun makers in an unfavorable light, and for lawyers looking for a pay day by filing lawsuits based on a comparatively small number of consumer complaints.
A federal judge in Missouri heard arguments recently in one of these lawsuits, which served as the lead-in for the CBS magazine 60 Minutes’ Jan. 19 airing of a segment that, according to Remington, had been in preparation since last October.
The 60 Minutes segment showcased two separate incidents which it alleged stemmed from issues related to the Model 700’s trigger, rehashing some details of two tragic incidents that occurred in 2011.
Remington says it, “shared voluminous information and spent hours providing background information to 60 Minutes related to the two incidents, and that 60 Minutes failed to offer its viewers critical facts and content core to each incident.”
The Stringer incident
First, was the tragic story from Mississippi of then 15-year-old Zachary Stringer, who shot and killed his 11-year-old brother with a Model 700 rifle in June of 2011. CBS’s 60 Minutes reported that Zachary was convicted in the shooting death of his brother with a Remington rifle even though Zachary “insisted it went off by itself.”
However, conflicting statements by Stringer cast doubt on his version of the incident. The investigation revealed that he loaded the gun to threaten the 11-year-old brother. After accidentally shooting his brother, Zachary grabbed his brother’s gun and put it between his dead brother’s legs, to fake that he had shot himself.
North Carolina incident
The second incident occurred in December 2011, in Columbus County, N.C. One woman was killed and two others injured by a single bullet discharged from the bedroom inside a neighbor’s house across the street.
The 23-year-old neighbor, and owner of the Remington rifle, claimed he was retrieving the rifle (which was in a gun case) from his bedroom closet. Thinking the rifle was unloaded, the neighbor pulled the rifle from the case with his right hand while holding a cell phone in his left hand. As he pulled the rifle out of the case, it discharged. The bullet traveled through his bedroom window and across the street where it struck the three women as they were walking to their car. This was considered an accident, and no charges were filed.
According to Remington, what 60 Minutes knew, but did not disclose, is that both of the rifles in question were examined and tested by forensic scientists employed by each state’s crime lab and were found to be in proper working order.
The basis for the lawsuits, and owner concerns, was the adjustable X-Mark Pro (XMP) triggers that were installed on Model 700 and Model 7 rifles manufactured from May 1, 2006, to April 9, 2014. The contention was that some rifles discharged, without the trigger being pulled, when the safety was moved from the safe to fire position.
Separately, after Remington’s own investigation determined there was a possible assembly error affecting some Model 700 and Model Seven rifles with XMP triggers, and the rifles could, under certain circumstances (most likely in very cold temperatures), unintentionally discharge.
The company determined that some XMP triggers might have had excess bonding agent used in the assembly process.
In April 2014, the company voluntarily issued an international recall on all Remington products with XMP trigger mechanisms manufactured from May 1, 2006, to April 9, 2014, and widely promoted and advertised the recall.
Under the recall program, over 350,000 XMP trigger mechanisms have been replaced, according to Remington.
Rifles manufactured after April 9, 2014, are not subject to the recall.
CBS’s 60 Minutes also made reference to a 1994 verdict against Remington in a case involving a Model 700 rifle with a Walker trigger mechanism (the Collins case). Remington says 60 Minutes did not disclose that in the only two injury cases tried to verdict since the Collins case involving Remington trigger mechanisms containing the connector component, both juries returned verdicts in Remington’s favor, finding that the Remington trigger mechanisms were not defective.
The complete Remington response may be viewed at www.remington.com/news/2017