- May 12, 2020
- Attorney Matt Stoddard
- Product Liability
Due to its habit of firing without its trigger being pulled, the P320 handgun has gathered a certain amount of notoriety for itself and its manufacturer, Sig Sauer. Stunningly, in spite of both empirical testing any multiple 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 Defect Has Been Known for Years
In 2016, the U.S Army adopted the P320 for use in the field, but not before putting it through a series of tests. These included drop tests, which revealed that the gun would discharge on impact at certain angles. Sig Sauer met the Army’s requests for a modified trigger mechanism to fix the problem — but only implemented the change 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 afterwards.
According to an investigation by CNN, the Army’s approval of the P320 soon led many police departments to adopt it as well, not knowing they would be receiving a version that had failed Army testing. As of mid-2018, at least three police officers had reported being injured when their P320s 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, and she may never walk normally again. CNN also found six more reports of accidental discharges, in addition to the three injured officers.
Settlements and Optional Upgrades Have Not Eliminated the Danger
Sig Sauer’s underwhelming response so far has been to offer customers a free “voluntary upgrade,” while vehemently insisting that the weapon is safe as-is. It has also settled one class action suit, offering P320 owners a refund, replacement, or free repairs, plus reimbursement for any repairs already made. Owners can make claims through June 3rd, 2020, but no compensation is included for the endangerment of their lives.
Multiple other suits for individual injuries are still pending. Meanwhile, an untold number of unmodified P320s remain in use.
Drop Safety Is Vital to Safe Gun Handling
In spite of what movies would have us believe, a gun discharging on impact is not normal. 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.
The Government Can’t Make Sig Sauer Stop, but the Stoddard Firm Can Hold Them Accountable
Guns are exempt from regulation by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), meaning that the CPSC can’t force Sig Sauer to issue a recall, no matter how great the danger. Neither can any other department of the federal government.
However, Sig Sauer is still civilly responsible for any injuries or deaths caused by defects in its products. Product liability litigation is a wonderful tool, not only for compensating victims, but for making greed and irresponsibility unprofitable.