Ronald Hansen, a man who suffered severe damage to his right hand and ear as well as burn injuries after the barrel of his hunting rifle exploded, is suing the gun manufacturer for damages. According to a news report in the Daily Mail, Hansen has filed a lawsuit against Savage Arms, one of the nation’s largest rifle makers, accusing the company of marketing a selling a muzzleloader that has been known to occasionally explode and severely injure hunters.
Hansen, 50, alleges in the complaint that Savage Arms in 2014 had received other complaints of explosions and injuries over the prior decade. Customers also reported that the barrel of the stainless steel 10 ML-II muzzleloader exploded, burst, split or cracked, according to thousands of court documents reviewed by The Associated Press. Hansen is seeking damages for his serious injuries alleging that the company failed to warn consumers about the defective product.
Failure to Warn Consumers
He testified during an August deposition that he followed the recommended procedures when he loaded the gun, which he bought in 2010, and had shot about 200 times. He was rushed to emergency room after the explosion and testified that he still struggles to hear even with a hearing aid, and cannot perform some of the chores in his farm due to his hand injury. Others have reported a slew of injuries from losing fingers to suffering serious nerve and facial injuries.
Even though Savage Arms discontinued this particular gun, it never issued a recall or warned consumers about it. Instead, the company has blamed operators for the explosions saying they must have loaded the wrong amount of gunpowder or might have created too much pressure inside the barrel.
An Unregulated Industry
This case also highlights the fact that gun manufacturers, unlike makers of other products, have the sole discretion to decide on their own if they want to recall potentially dangerous weapons. In 1976, Congress passed a law stripping such authority from the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), which regulates everything from toasters and toys to BB guns. The CPSC has no power to control the manufacture or sale of guns – even defective ones.
So, essentially, this is an industry that plays by its own rules and can only be held liable in civil court. It is unconscionable that this major industry in the U.S. is not subject to any regulations when it comes to product quality. As product defect lawyers, we hope this appalling loophole in the law is closed and that gun makers are held accountable for faulty products they put out in the market.