U.S. District Judge Ortrie Smith this week raised questions with attorneys for Remington over the way the gun maker intends to correct alleged safety issues with its long-used Walker trigger.
According to reports from CNBC, Smith asked if company’s strategy to correct up to eight million firearms, most notably the Model 700 bolt-action rifle, included proposed buy-backs.
“If the guns are defective, why are they still out there?” Smith asked in court this week.
The rifles have been alleged to be defective due to a trigger design that allows a gun to fire unexpectedly.
Attorneys for the gun maker contended that, while “Remington is committed to this settlement,” denied that the guns were unsafe and many were likely too old at this point to be retrofitted. Gun owners whose rifles cannot be upgraded will receive vouchers for up to $12.50 in Remington-branded merchandise.
The original complaint, filed in January 2013, alleged Remington knowingly produced rifles with defective triggers before they hit the shelves in the late 1940s and continued to produce them over the years despite thousands of complaints and more than a hundred lawsuits.
The Walker trigger is exclusive to Remington bolt-action rifles, most notably the 700. According to court documents, the design utilizes an internal component known as a trigger “connector,” which in effect creates a unique design comprised of two distinctly different parts. The connector floats on top of the trigger rather than attached directly to it, and it is held in place by tension from a spring and the side plates.
Since the connector and trigger are not physically attached, they can separate to form a gap could where dust, debris, manufacturing burrs, lubrication, moisture, etc. could get trapped and throw off the alignment of other moving components.
The lawsuit, whose settlement had been postponed last year, alleged that under the right circumstances, the rifle — safety engaged or not — could fire a round without the trigger ever being pulled.
Smith is expected to release a preliminary opinion on the proposed settlement in coming weeks.