How a Reddit thread helped us report on DPS’s firearm problem

    safety bulletin
    Part of the video created by DPS showing the misfire issues.

    The Arizona Department of Public Safety created a safety bulletin video last year to alert troopers of a flaw in their service pistols that could cause them to fire unexpectedly or not fire at all.

    The Arizona Mirror obtained a copy of the video from a public records request, which was in part informed by a Reddit thread discovered when conducting research.

    “The FNS has a huge problem with firing when out of battery,” Reddit user R0binSage said in a comment on a sale for the FNS pistols five months ago. “I wouldn’t take one even if they’re free.”

    Another user chimed in asking for proof of the claim, but the Reddit user couldn’t produce any.

    “Arizona DPS created a video for their Youtube channel. They have since deleted it,” R0binSage said.

    Another user, BenjaminWebb161, said that what R0binSage was saying was true.

    “I can corroborate AZ DPS having issues, I’m buddy buddy with a couple of their aviation guys and they informed me that their FNs were being POS,” he said.

    Similar circumstances

    Belgian based Fabrique Nationale, commonly referred to as FN, claims the issue that caused their striker fired pistols to malfunction only happens in unique and rare circumstances, and DPS has said that the misfire issue is not why they’ve decided to drop the gun for the more popular Glock.

    The response from FN is similar to the response by SIG Sauer last year, which found itself in a similar situation.

    In 2017, it was revealed that SIG Sauer’s popular P320 pistols, which had been adopted by the military and police, would fire if dropped.

    The company offered free upgrades for what it called a “rare occurrence.”

    SIG Sauer has since shipped upgraded versions of the gun without the defect to stores. But according to CNN reporting from last year, more than 500,000 were sold before the company acknowledged the problem, and older, unrepaired versions of the pistol are still readily available.

    At least one instance of an officer being shot by a malfunctioning P320 has been recorded when a Stamford Police Department SWAT member dropped his pistol and was shot in the left knee, according to a lawsuit filed against the firearm manufacturer.

    There are more similarities between the Sig Sauer case and the FN case.

    The Army discovered the drop-fire issue with the P320s in 2016, but the issue wasn’t publicly known until August 2017, when a YouTube gun reviewer exposed the issue. A day after the video was published, SIG Sauer started its “voluntary upgrade” program.

    DPS was aware of the delayed fire issue with the FNS pistols in August 2018, publishing a video on YouTube to be distributed internally about the issue, but not alerting the general public. In December 2018, FN acknowledged the issues that had been reported in Baltimore media and began fixing defective FN pistols for free.

    FN has not responded to requests for comment.

    Jerod MacDonald-Evoy
    Reporter Jerod MacDonald-Evoy joins the Arizona Mirror from the Arizona Republic, where he spent 4 years covering everything from dark money in politics to Catholic priest sexual abuse scandals. Jerod has also won awards for his documentary films which have covered issues such as religious tolerance and surveillance technology used by police. He brings strong watchdog sensibilities and creative storytelling skills to the Arizona Mirror.


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