- November 1, 2021
- Attorney Matt Stoddard
- Product Liability
Defective Guns: A Real Concern
The Result Can Be Catastrophic
When you purchase any product, you expect that it will operate appropriately and that the manufacturer has taken every possible precaution to prevent injury from its use. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. Sometimes defects in products are not identified in the production or testing phases and are first discovered when an accident occurs.
Injuries caused by improperly functioning products can be significant. However, when the product is a gun, the potential for substantial harm, and even death, is considerable. Almost since its release, the Sig Sauer P320 has proven to be dangerous. The guns have resulted in a host of serious injuries and wrongful death lawsuits. Over the years, a number of product liability lawsuits have been filed as well.
Discovering the Sig Sauer P320 Problems
The Sig Sauer P320 is a popular firearm. Used by the military, law enforcement, and civilians alike, this pistol is one of the most popular on the market. It was introduced by gun manufacturer Sig Sauer in 2014 and is still available today.
While the company publishes the product’s positive reviews on its website, they do not mention that the Sig Sauer P320 has been the cause of multiple accidental shootings over the years.
The P320 handgun has a habit of firing without its trigger being pulled, an occurrence that has been reported again and again. Stunningly, in spite of both empirical testing and many incidents, Sig Sauer has refused to issue a recall or even acknowledge that the P320 is dangerous to its hundreds of thousands of users.
The Absence of a Sig Sauer P320 Recall
The Defect Has Been Known For Years
What does it say about a company when they are made aware of a defect, yet don’t take the initiative to protect all users of its product?
In 2016, the U.S Army adopted the P320 for use in the field, but not before it underwent significant testing. The Army’s drop test revealed that the gun would discharge on impact at certain angles. Clearly, this was a concern that they needed to have addressed. Sig Sauer met the Army’s requests for a modified trigger mechanism to fix the problem — but implemented the change only for military sales. The original model, now known to pose a risk of accidental discharge, was reportedly sold in other markets for more than a year afterward. This blatant lack of concern is astonishing.
SIG P320 Discharge In Holster and When Dropped
Even one injury resulting from a defective weapon is too many. Unfortunately, when referring to the Sig Sauer P320, many have suffered.
Problems were first seen in the early years, right after the gun was introduced. An investigation conducted by CNN identified that by the middle of 2018 at least three police officers had reported being injured when their P320s were discharged without a trigger pull, including one officer who says she didn’t drop hers but was simply pulling it out of the holster. The bullet struck her femur, impacting her ability to walk normally.
CNN also found six more reports of accidental discharge, in addition to those of the three injured officers.
Additionally, this same news outlet reported that the Army’s approval of the P320 led many police departments to adopt this weapon. However, they were unaware that the model they would be receiving was the version that had failed Army testing.
Sig Sauer P320 Incidents
Have you been the victim of a malfunctioning firearm? If so, you know the damage that can result. And, even if you have not experienced it, you can certainly imagine the injuries that can be caused by an errant bullet, often at close range.
Documented incidents of accidental discharge of the Sig Sauer P320 are considerable. Those involved are often well-trained law enforcement officers or members of the military, individuals who are familiar with firearms. In addition to the accidents specified earlier, others include:
- The discharge of a counterterrorism officer’s Sig Sauer P320 while in its leg holster. The officer (a marine and police force veteran) was sitting in his vehicle, not touching the weapon, when it fired. The bullet went through the car and narrowly missed hitting a pedestrian on the street. (Note: within weeks of this event, the agency for whom the officer worked decided to discontinue use of this weapon.)
- A U. S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officer was injured when his P320 fired when he put his hands on the gun’s grip (not the trigger). The officer was training at a shooting range at the time of the accident. The bullet entered his hip and exited his thigh, resulting in considerable injury including nerve damage.
- A law enforcement officer was injured when his Sig Sauer P320 was discharged without his touching it at a crowded high school football game. The officer was injured, but thankfully the surrounding students were not harmed.
- In 2020, a Sig Sauer P320 went off in the midst of a military training exercise in Canada. The soldier, who belonged to Canada’s elite special forces counterterrorism unit, was lucky — he suffered only a flesh wound. As a result of this incident, the Sig Sauer P320 is no longer used by this branch of their military.
These four stories are just a sampling of reported incidents, none of which has resulted in the manufacturer’s recalling the gun and pulling it off the shelves in the marketplace.
Sig Sauer Settlements and Optional Upgrades Have Not Eliminated the Danger
In August of 2017, in response to filed lawsuits and negative publicity, Sig Sauer offered its customers a free “voluntary upgrade.” It is important to recognize that while the upgrade was offered, the company vehemently insisted that the weapon was safe as-is. It also settled one class-action suit, offering P320 owners a refund, replacement, or free repairs, plus reimbursement for any repairs already made.
When a company offers a voluntary recall and retrofit but continues to insist that its product is truly safe in its original form, it is hardly encouraging participation. It is putting profits above safety.
To be honest, the company’s response was truly underwhelming. Because of their comments and relative inaction, an untold number of unmodified P320s remain in use.
Responsible Gun Manufacturing Is Critical
Drop Safety Is Vital to Safe Gun Handling
There may be no product available on the market today where safety is as important as guns. In addition to being used responsibly, they must be manufactured appropriately, with extra attention paid to accident prevention.
In spite of what movies would have us believe, a gun’s discharging on impact is not normal. In fact, most gun enthusiast groups, including the NRA-owned Shooting Illustrated, recommend that users never try to catch a falling gun, because of the danger of accidentally grabbing the trigger and setting it off.
Once a gun has begun to fall, the safest move is to allow it to hit the ground and then carefully retrieve it. That’s why it should be, and usually is, an industry standard to make sure guns won’t discharge if dropped.
Sig P320 Accidental Discharge 2021
Perhaps nothing speaks more clearly to the need for a total recall than the fact that in 2021, over four years after Sig Sauer offered its voluntary upgrade, people are still suffering injuries and lawsuits continue to be filed.
One well-publicized case was recently filed by Detective Brittney Hilton of Bridge City, Texas. While leaving her precinct in December of 2020, her gun discharged on its own, inside of her purse, when she picked up her bag to leave. She was injured in the shooting, as the bullet entered her leg and exited her buttocks.
In August of 2021, ABC News reported that there were nine additional suits against Sig Sauer for similar incidents with this same weapon. Additionally, according to Hilton’s lawsuit, in the past 5 years similar incidents have occurred over 50 times across the country.
The number of incidents and their broad geographic impact clearly illustrate that issues with this firearm still exist. Time and time again it continues to misfire, even in the hands of trained professionals. The fact that this product is still in use across the country is simply frightening.
The Stoddard Firm Can Hold Them Accountable
Oversight for most products is provided through government guidance. Unfortunately, guns are exempt from regulation by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).
Basically, this means that the CPSC cannot force a Sig Sauer recall, regardless of how great the danger is to its users and the general public.
And, other departments of the federal government cannot intervene.
However, Sig Sauer is still civilly responsible for any injuries or deaths caused by defects in its products. Those who have been injured continue to file lawsuits. While we, along with many others, truly wish the company would act responsibly and recall this weapon, they simply refuse and continue to insist that all incidents of accidental discharge are the result of improper handling. In situations like this, product liability litigation is a valuable tool, not only for compensating victims but for making greed and irresponsibility unprofitable.
If you or someone you love has been injured by what you believe is a defective firearm, reach out to the attorneys at The Stoddard Firm who can help. Contact us today at 470-467-2200 to speak with a product liability lawyer and learn how we can assist you in obtaining compensation for your injuries and anguish.