Why there was no mandatory recall on DPS pistols

    A photo of a DPS-issued FNS Longslide pistol that went off in a Benson hospital last summer. Photo courtesy Arizona Department of Public Safety/public records

    Once the Arizona Department of Public Safety notified Fabrique Nationale of the issue it discovered with company’s premier line of striker pistols, it took four months for the firearms manufacturer to publicly acknowledge the issue.

    DPS had discovered an issue that caused the weapons to fire unexpectedly or not fire at all, and the discovery was made almost entirely by accident.

    Two months before the company had ever notified the public, it promptly replaced all the striker mechanisms in DPS pistols to remedy the issue – a fix the company would later offer for free to consumers, but only if they knew about it.

    “[S]tares at my FNS-9C on my nightstand… goddamnit,” YouTube user Neko Cramer said in a comment on the Arizona Mirror’s upload of a DPS safety bulletin on the issue.

    Unlike other consumer products, firearms do not have to face mandatory recalls.


    “The default is that there are no product safety standards,” Hannah Shearer, litigation director for the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, said to the Mirror.

    Currently there are no federally mandated safety requirements or testing on firearms in the United States.

    “It’s really troubling that, in some instances, that you can’t be confident in the quality of a firearm,” Shearer said.

    Junk guns

    The term “Saturday Night Special” might ring a bell to those who lived in the United States in the early 1980s.

    It referred to guns that were made cheap and quick and were popular among some low-level criminals in the 1980s.

    In response to these guns becoming more prevalent, some states enacted legislation that made manufacturers conduct certain safety tests.

    Today, only seven states and the District of Columbia have handgun design safety standards. Arizona is not among them.

    Additionally, the Federal Consumer Product Safety Act exempts all firearms from its regulations. Some argue this is a protection on the 2nd Amendment that would shield gun manufacturers from overzealous regulations.

    However, it also means that there are no mandatory lists of recalled firearms or firearms with known malfunctions. To people like Shearer, this is an issue for consumers.

    “We don’t let other consumer product industries regulate themselves,” Shearer said.

    The Sporting Arms and Manufacturers’ Institute currently acts as the oversight entity on firearms.

    Founded in 1926 at the request of the federal government and funded by firearms and ammunition manufacturers, the group conducts its own tests on firearms and lobbies for legislation.

    The group does impose certain regulations like pressure standards, but the standards are voluntary for manufacturers.

    Additionally, once a problem is discovered with a firearm, it is impossible to get it recalled.

    Gun manufacturer Taurus was found to have sold more than a million defective guns, some of which killed people and were the subject of a class action lawsuit. However, the guns in question were never recalled and the federal government never intervened.

    Now, one of the states that has enacted gun safety oversight laws on manufacturers is waiting to see if a challenge on its law will be heard by the United States Supreme Court.

    The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld regulations on firearm manufacturing put in place in California, but the groups challenging the law have now asked the Supreme Court to step in.

    The court has yet to decide whether it will hear the case.

    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.


    1. The 9th Circuit case referenced in the penultimate paragraph is in regard to California’s “safety standards”. Note that these standards only apply to guns sold to non-law enforcement folks. Police can continue to purchase guns that either haven’t passed California’s “safety standards” or haven’t been submitted to testing.

      Further, the “safety standards” are, on their face, ludicrous. A black gun may have passed the various tests, but the same gun in green must also be subjected to the same destructive tests. The companies pay a fee (tax) to submit their guns for testing, are required to submit 5 examples, and are informed that the samples will be destroyed in the process.

      Finally, all new guns submitted for testing must have “micro stamping” technology incorporated into them, though not a single manufacturer uses it.

      Safety Testing is simply another lever used by the anti-gun folks to ban all guns.


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