Critics See Dangerous 'Design Flaw' in a Top-Selling Handgun

SIG Sauer P320 can fire on its own, reports the 'Washington Post' and the Trace
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 11, 2023 11:10 AM CDT
Updated Apr 16, 2023 8:00 AM CDT
Critics See Dangerous 'Design Flaw' in a Top-Selling Handgun
A Sig Sauer P320 handgun is fired.   (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

It's an investigation into gun safety, but not of the usual variety. This one looks into one of the most popular handguns in existence—the SIG Sauer P320—and allegations that its design results in too many accidental discharges. The eight-month investigation by the Washington Post and the Trace, a nonprofit news outfit dedicated solely to reporting on gun violence, turned up more than 100 people who say their P320 handguns went off even though they did not pull the trigger. At least 80 people suffered injuries, including 33 officers at 18 different law enforcement agencies. The guns would go off when they were being holstered or unholstered, or when a person was doing something as routine as exiting a car or walking up or down stairs, according to the story, which draws from court records, videos, and victim interviews.

“The number and frequency of injuries are strongly suggestive of a design flaw versus a human performance error,” Bill Lewinski, described as a leading expert on accidental shootings, is quoted as saying. “What we’re seeing is highly unusual.” Maker Sig Sauer denies any such flaw, pointing out that accidental discharges occur with all types of weapons. "Despite years of litigation and extensive discovery, no one, including plaintiffs’ ‘experts’, have ever been able to replicate a P320 discharging without a trigger pull,” the company says. The story digs into the specifics of the gun's "striker-fired" mechanics, noting that "the P320 is different from many striker-fired guns in that it is effectively fully cocked at rest." Read the full investigation, which notes that firearms are exempt from consumer product safety rules. (More Longform stories.)

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