Roger Stringer is a power line construction foreman from Enon, Mississippi. His life changed on
a random night that should’ve been like any other. Roger’s son Zac (15 at the time) and Justin
(10) were home alone and got into a fight like most young brothers do - but tonight took a turn
for the worst. Zac, angry, went to grab his Remington 700 from the garage and loaded it to
scare his brother. He pointed it - and bang - somehow it had fired… right through the head of his
younger brother, killing him instantly.
Panicking, Zac put the gun in his brother’s lap to make it appear as if he had killed himself.
Roger came home and pushed noticeably distraught Zac to the side as he pleaded “Daddy,
don’t go in there.”
The Enon detectives were quick to find these were no self inflicted wounds. They arrested Zac
the day of his brother Justin’s funeral and he would later confess what he had done. The one
plea that stayed consistent was that he never fired the gun. Roger would go on to testify
against his own son in court, something no father ever wants to do. Understandably so, Roger
claimed he had never heard of a gun going off without the trigger being pulled - and it seemed
like a desperate plea. Zac would be sentenced as a juvenile to 10 years in prison.
Roger would go on to visit Zac in prison as often as possible. Every time - the same story: “I
promise I never pulled the trigger”. Roger hadn’t known at the time that Remington had received
over 200 complaints stating their Remington 700’s X-Mark Pro trigger had misfired. About six
months after Justin’s death, another freak-accident occurred when a former Marine taking his
gun out of its case in his living room misfired out a closed window - hitting 16 year old Jasmine
Thar AND her cousin Jahmesha (with the same bullet). They were in their Grandma’s front yard
about to get in the car and go Christmas shopping. While the bullet just missed Jasmine’s heart,
it directly hit Jahmesha’s. The marine, Anthony Blackwell, was deemed not guilty after claiming
the gun misfired.
More and more cases started to flow in - another Remington 700 owner had shot himself in the
foot without the trigger ever pulled. Attorney Robert Chaffin won his client $17 million from
Remington but they refused to claim responsibility for their gun’s flaw. 60 Minutes states,
“According to a Remington internal document the company had evidence of the problem as
early as 1975 when its own tests showed some of the model 700s firing without the trigger
being pulled. And this 1979 document indicates the company considered a recall. That
never happened, but a decade ago it did switch from the original Walker trigger to the XMark
Remington said under oath that the reason for a design change was simply because of other customer complaints and it had no correlation to misfirings. YouTube videos of the Remington 700 titled, “gun fired when safety was taken off (twice)” and “trigger was not touched.” were posted, pleading for awareness. Three United States police departments complained as well. Remington by 2010 was receiving video footage from customers “claiming they captured the trigger going off on its own after the safety was released.”
With the videos flowing in and guns being sent in for testing, Remington still failed to address any issue. Although our government can recall toy guns, real guns are out of their jurisdiction. Under the second amendment, our government does not have the right to recall guns. In April of 2014, Remington finally did its own tests in the cold (which many of the videos stated was the cause of misfiring), and found that 4/10 of the 700s with X-Mark Pro triggers misfired. Although they recognized an issue, they refused to state the trigger had ever harmed someone.
Although Remington has offered to fix the triggers (free of charge), 60 Minutes claims “they have done little to notify gun owners”. With “only about 1 in 4 rifles fixed, nearly a million remain out there.”
Roger (without knowing any of this), went home from his most recent prison visit and Googled “Remington 700 misfirings” — years after not believing his son. He said he almost dropped his phone when he saw all the results pop up on his screen. He contacted the courthouse which had summoned his son, and their forensic specialist claimed he had not heard of these similar instances. Zac would soon after be released for good behavior (5 years early). Roger now believes his son is not guilty.
When I heard this story on 60 Minutes this Sunday, I was basically drooling (knowing how great of a journal entry it would be). Who is at fault here? Zac or Remington? Should he have ever loaded the gun in his house (which he fully takes blame for), or should the gun have never gone off? I think it’s a bit of both.
60 Minutes claims that if Remington was to recall (and replace) every 700, it would cost them about a half a billion dollars. That’s insane! Financially, that could potentially ruin a company which has been in business since 1816. At the same time, however, ethically they should own up to it. I think this story puts a really bad taste in every American’s mouth, whether you’re anti-gun or an NRA member.
From an industrial design standpoint, this one design flaw in the X-Mark Pro trigger has caused an incredible amount of pain and suffering for numerous individuals. It’s truly a classic story of ethical design debate. I think our system has made it so Remington will never have to fully take blame for this, however, everyone will know they are guilty of wrongdoing. The real question is, will this affect their reputation and ultimately lead to their demise?