The Montana man whose nearly 15-year search for answers about the death of his son paved the way for a nationwide class action settlement with the Remington Arms Co. says the gun maker still is not coming clean. So now, Richard Barber says he is launching a new push to "inform and educate the public" about one of the most popular firearms in the world, and his claim that the guns can fire without the trigger being pulled.
Barber's 9-year-old son Gus was killed during a family hunting trip in 2000 when a Remington Model 700 rifle went off as the boy's mother was unloading it. At the worst possible moment, Gus had run behind a horse trailer and into the path of the bullet. Barbara Barber has consistently maintained that her hand was nowhere near the trigger.
Richard Barber says he eventually found thousands of customer complaints and internal documents that suggest Remington had known for decades about an alleged design flaw in the gun's firing mechanism but did nothing about it despite dozens of deaths and injuries. Allegations of the defect and a cover up—both of which Remington has steadfastly denied—were the subject of the 2010 documentary "Remington Under Fire: A CNBC Investigation."
"The Model 700, including its trigger mechanism, has been free of any defect since it was first produced," Remington told CNBC in 2010. "And, despite any careless reporting to the contrary, the gun's use by millions of Americans has proven it to be a safe, trusted and reliable rifle."
Last month, a federal judge in Missouri tentatively approved a nationwide settlement in which Remington agreed to replace the triggers on more than 7 million rifles equipped with what has become known as the Walker Fire Control—the same mechanism that was in the Barbers' rifle. But the company still maintains the guns are safe, and has said it is settling the case to put an end to lengthy litigation. Barber says that stance is part of the reason he feels the need to speak out again.
"I wholeheartedly support the provisions in the class settlement in replacing the triggers," Barber told CNBC in an interview Monday. As a result, he said, he will not formally object to the tentative settlement. Nonetheless, he said, "Remington's statements (following the CNBC program in 2010) potentially constitute a fraud that not only endangered the public, but resulted in loss of life."