CNBC ORIGINAL TAKES VIEWERS INSIDE A 10-MONTH INVESTIGATION OF THE WORLD’S MOST POPULAR HUNTING RIFLE AND EXAMINES WHETHER A COMPANY HAS GONE TOO FAR IN PROTECTING ITS SIGNATURE PRODUCT
One-Hour Documentary Reported by CNBC’s Senior Correspondent Scott Cohn to Premiere on CNBC on Wednesday, October 20th at 9PM ET/PT
ENGLEWOOD CLIFFS, N.J., October 11, 2010—The Remington Model 700-series rifle —with more than five million sold—is one of the world’s most popular firearms. Famous for its accuracy, the rifle is now the target of a series of lawsuits alleging that it is unsafe and susceptible to firing accidentally. Remington insists its rifle is safe, trusted, and reliable, though a trail of death and serious injury dating back decades has prompted critics to ask whether this iconic American company has compromised safety in the name of profits, and gone too far in trying to protect its signature product. CNBC, First in Business Worldwide, takes viewers inside its 10-month investigation.
On Wednesday, October 20th at 9PM ET/PT, CNBC presents, “Remington Under Fire: A CNBC Investigation,” reported by award-winning Senior Correspondent Scott Cohn. This CNBC Original documentary examines allegations that the Remington Model 700- series hunting rifle is prone to firing without pulling the trigger, and that its manufacturer, Remington, has been aware of this concern for almost 60 years. Dozens of deaths, scores of injuries, and more than a thousand customer complaints have been linked to the alleged problem. The story is told through former corporate insiders and the company’s own internal documents. Cohn speaks to several gun owners who suffered devastating consequences as a result of the 700-series rifle, including Rich Barber, a father who has devoted his life to finding answers about the tragic death of his nine-year-old son.
The CNBC investigation took Cohn from Florida to Alaska; along the way, he uncovered the existence of thousands of complaints and more than 75 lawsuits, all involving inadvertent discharges of the rifle. Cohn spoke with dozens of avid hunters and gun owners, as well as police snipers and military personnel, who say they’ve experienced this problem—the very problem Rich Barber says resulted in the death of his young son. Remington has consistently maintained that the deaths, injuries, and inadvertent discharges involving its bolt-action 700-series rifles have been the result of poor maintenance, unsafe handling, or improper modification of the trigger by the customer.
Nearly four of every ten bolt-action rifles sold is a Remington, and sales of the 700- series have brought the company hundreds of millions over the last six decades. CNBC tracks down 98-year-old Mike Walker, the Remington engineer who designed the trigger for the Remington 700. For the first time, Walker tells his story. Walker’s internal company memos, obtained by CNBC, indicate that he repeatedly raised concerns, even after he retired from Remington, about the trigger system he designed. Other concerns were raised as well, including one from a Remington colleague who warned in a memo, “this situation can be very dangerous.” Walker proposed a relatively inexpensive solution, though Remington has never recalled the rifle, and insists it has no defect.
CNBC’s investigation found that Remington considered a “call back” of the 700 rifle, but decided against it. No one can order a gun manufacturer to recall a firearm; while federal regulators can order the recall of most consumer products – food, medicine, and even air rifles and crossbows – they do not have authority to impose a firearm recall. That leaves the responsibility for manufacturing and marketing a safe gun in the hands of individual companies like Remington.
Remington has responded to the numerous first-hand accounts of accidental firings by maintaining they are the result of poor maintenance and unsafe handling, often by inexperienced users. Remington officials declined to speak to CNBC for this documentary, instead offering comments in writing. Cohn speaks with a former Remington employee whose job involved dealing with customer complaints related to the 700-series rifle. He tells CNBC he was instructed not to acknowledge to these customers any problem with the rifle, and says if he had, he would have lost his job.
For more information including web extras and extended video clips, log onto Remington.cnbc.com.
Mitch Weitzner is the Senior Executive Producer of “Remington Under Fire: A CNBC Investigation.” Jeff Pohlman is the Senior Producer. Ray Borelli is the Vice President of Strategic Research, Scheduling and Long Form Programming.
CNBC’s “Remington Under Fire: A CNBC Investigation” will re-air on Wednesday, October 20th at 10PM ET/PT, Sunday, October 24th at 10PM ET, Thursday, October 28th at 8PM ET and 12AM ET, and Sunday, October 31st at 1AM ET.
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