HELENA - Remington, the nation’s oldest gun maker, reportedly is filing for bankruptcy protection, in the face of falling sales and lawsuits related to the 2012 Sandy Hook school shootings.
But a Montana man who’s spoken out for years about problems with the trigger mechanism of Remington bolt-action rifles told MTN News Monday he believes the company’s financial woes also are linked to public knowledge that its products are dangerous.
“I really think it’s the liability of their product,” Richard Barber of Willow Creek said in an interview. “Remington can’t give its guns away. I am certain that the inherent dangers of their product have caused people not to buy them.”
Remington officials couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.
Barber’s 9-year-old son, Gus, was killed by a Remington Model 700 rifle in 2000, after the weapon fired without the trigger being pulled, he says.
Since then, Barber has spent years pushing the company to repair what he says are defects with the trigger mechanism that cause the popular Model 700 and other Remington rifles to fire without a trigger pull.
In a 2017 settlement of a federal class-action lawsuit, Remington agreed to fix the trigger mechanism on millions of rifles.
But Barber has harshly criticized the settlement, saying it allows Remington to continue denying the rifles are defective and thereby discourage people from bringing in the weapons for a retrofitted trigger mechanism.
The settlement has been appealed to the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, further stalling action by Remington to fix the trigger mechanisms.
The Associated Press reported Monday that Remington has reached a financing deal that will allow the company to keep operating, while filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.
The company has been hurt by declining sales of firearms since Donald Trump won the presidency and by the aftermath of the 2012 Sandy Hook school shootings in Newtown, Connecticut, the Associated Press said. One of the weapons used by the Sandy Hook shooter was a Remington Bushmaster AR-15.
Barber, however, said Monday he thinks Remington’s financial problems also are linked to liability for its defective rifles and more lawsuits filed by people who are still getting injured by rifles firing without a trigger pull.
“They’ve deprived me of my son and they deprived a lot of other people of their children, and now they’re being deprived of what they value above all else, and that’s their money,” he said.
Barber said he’s still getting calls from people who’ve had their Remington rifles fire without a trigger pull and harm someone. Barber has posted tens of thousands of internal company documents he says show that Remington knew about the trigger-mechanism defects, but did nothing to warn consumers.
Barber also has been pushing to ban secrecy in civil-lawsuit settlements in federal court, saying that information on defective products should be made public, forcing companies to repair the defects or face economic consequences from consumers.
“People would know that products were defective, and the company would be forced to fix (the product) or go out of business,” he said. “If nobody will by their product, then they’re out of business.”