What The Remington Arms Company And The Tr-mp Regime Have In Common

Recently Dayan Edwards posted a comment on this blog that contained a link to a 60 Minutes segment on trigger problems associated with a certain Remington rifle, Model 700. A federal class action suit involving Remington’s rifle was filed here in Missouri, and the parties are awaiting final court approval of an agreement to settle the case. The 60 Minutes segment was broadcast on February 19 and I have posted it below. It’s hard to watch because of the tragedies involved and because we all know how much power the gun industry has over our politics and our culture.  But other than displaying the outrageous behavior of a gun manufacturer, I have another reason to post the video, and it begins with Remington’s lengthy and defensive response to the 60 Minute piece.

Remington concludes, naturally, that it stands “behind the safety and reliability of its firearms,” saying the Model 700 “has earned its reputation among millions of satisfied users as America’s most popular, reliable and trusted bolt-action rifle.” That a manufacturer, nearly culturally immune to any liability for what it does, would conclude such a thing is to be expected. But Remington uses a Tr-mpian tactic in trying to publicly defend itself against blame for manufacturing an apparently (and to most people, obviously) defective product. Keep in mind the fact that Remington refused to be interviewed on camera for the 60 Minutes report, as you read the following introduction to Remington’s public response, which I include in full. And see if the response doesn’t sound familiar:

Remington was first contacted by a 60 Minutes producer in October 2016 advising that CBS was “working on a [60 Minutes segment] in regards to the XMP recall and the pending Pollard Class Action Settlement.”  The 60 Minutes producers, representing that CBS was interested in airing “a complete, well-rounded, and accurate report,” asked Remington to provide background information about Model 700 rifles and about two independent incidents involving Model 700 rifles.  Given this representation and with the hope that 60 Minutes was truly interested in producing a balanced and accurate report, Remington sent 60 Minutes numerous records and information on those topics, and it also directed CBS to specific, readily available public records related to the topics chosen as the focus by 60 Minutes.

It is distressing that most of the information Remington provided to 60 Minutes was not included or ever referenced in its February 19, 2017 Remington segment.  To set the record straight and to provide Remington’s valued customers and viewers of the 60 Minutes segment with a complete and accurate understanding of several of the matters presented in the segment, Remington provides below a listing of information either in 60 Minutes’ possession or readily available to it in public records before it aired its segment.  This material puts the 60 Minutes’ segment in context and exposes 60 Minutes’ pre-determined viewpoint and intentional omission of key facts that would have reflected balanced reporting of the circumstances of those tragic incidents.

That last sentence is crucial to understanding why it is that Tr-mp and his loyalists, including those in the gun industry, go to so much trouble to discredit mainstream journalism. Remington says the material it provides “exposes 60 Minutes pre-determined viewpoint.” Remington says 60 Minutes intentionally omitted “key facts.” Substitute Tr-mp for Remington in the statement above and you see the blueprint of the next four years, in terms of how Tr-mp intends to avoid liability for his grifting and his malfeasance.

The point of all this, which can’t be emphasized enough, is that we need to support good journalism. We need to fiercely resist the effort to trash mainstream journalism as “fake news” and to fiercely resist the effort to transform trashy outlets like Breitbart into mainstream news sites. That is why, even though I understand how hard it is for Democrats to win in places like West Virginia, Senator Joe Manchin should be utterly condemned for the following:

On Wednesday Feb 8, West Virginia’s Democratic Senator Joe Manchin welcomed the Breitbart News editorial team to his Capitol Hill office for an hourlong off-the-record “get to know you” session. It was part of a behind-the-scenes process — kicked off post-election and led by Manchin’s communications director Jonathan Kott — to establish warmer relations with the right-wing news outlet.

Joe Manchin is a very conservative Democrat in a state Tr-mp won by 42 points. He is up for relection in two years. He is trying to win. But if the price of winning is the legitimization of outlets like Breitbart, if the price of winning is to make alt-right media normal, then that price is too high. Keeping a very right-wing Manchin in office as a Democrat is not worth it, if it means Breitbart and outlets like it come to be seen in the same light as CBS’s 60 Minutes.

Speaking of which, here is that 60 Minutes segment, an example of real, first-rate journalism:

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15 Comments

  1. I have to say that I have had knowledge of “60 Minutes” and how they perform, and it is not even-handed. I was part of a utility that owned two nuclear power plants. “60 Minutes” did an article on a power plant in Illinois and the problems it was having during construction. As a part of the agreement to be interviewed for the article, the utility asked that they have their own cameras rolling every time that “SM’s” cameras were rolling, which SM agreed to. (As an aside here, I should state that I am not an “all-out” supporter of nuclear power, and was not then. I believe that most owner-operators of nuclear power plants do not have management staff effective and good enough to manage a complex, high risk technology like nuclear power. I think the same is true of other organizations, such as NASA, and most oil companies, and oil pipeline companies, sadly.).

    After the article was aired, the utility was outraged at the clear bias SM demonstrated. It was clear, by watching what was recorded by both the utility and SM, and what was aired by SM, that SM had created the article with a going-in bias against nuclear power. They cut reasonable depictions of why the utility made some of its decisions, and even cut specific sentences in half to make the utility look silly, One in particular I remember is when a utility executive said something like “It turned out I was wrong about that, but at the time I made the decision I had (this information and that information) and that turned out to not be correct.”. They trimmed the sentence to say “It turned out I was wrong” and made the executive look incompetent.

    The utility sent copies of the two videos around to demonstrate to other nuclear utilities what they could expect from SM if they were picked for an article. I viewed that compilation with dismay.

    I have not watched SM since then and will not start any time soon. Again, I am not a fan of utility executives or nuclear power. When journalists of that ilk tell you about balanced treatment, be wary. Be very wary. Most of us have a bias that we are not even aware of, and that we cannot easily rid ourselves of, but when you go in with the idea to present a specific point of view and advertise your piece as unbiased – that is lying, in my book. Journalism must try harder to be balanced and not driven by the “bottom line” or risk becoming irrelevant.

    As to Duane’s point above, I am totally on board with demanding high quality, unbiased reporting. That is why mainstream outlets like “60 Minutes” MUST avoid the temptation to pander to more viewership and be as balanced as they can possibly be. As a senior manager and organizational culture consultant for the last 30 years, I am sure that honesty, truth (as you know it), and transparency will serve you and everyone else far better than any duplicity you can imagine. Machiavelli was wrong (and he paid the ultimate price).

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  2. ansonburlingame

     /  March 1, 2017

    Michael,

    Again a GREAT perspective given your background. You sound very much like a “Navy Nuc”.

    I saw the 60 mins clip when it was broadcast and certainly know there are always two sides to any story and all we got was the information that some 10 or so people were were killed by a rifle firing without the trigger being pulled. There are millions of such rifles available around the world today. OK, maybe there were actually 100 people killed due to a “bad trigger”, maybe even 1000. Of course even one such incident is bad news, but …….. My only point is 100% safety is impossible, not when the are millions of “things” available that “could be unsafe”. Do the math on the rifles and you get lots of zeros after the decimal point before the first real number is seen (0.000001, or something like that) Statistically at least that is “pretty safe”, but, no, it is not “completely safe”.

    Case in point. Technology now allows the measurement of radioactive Plutoniun down to levels in the range of 10 to the minus 12 (12 zeros after the decimal point before a number bigger than zero appears). Simply because of atmospheric testing of nucs before it ended in the early 60’s we can find plutonium in “anyone’s backyard today, almost” today.

    When we were working hard to clean up Rocky Flats the question was asked “How low must the plutonium level be before we can declare the surface being cleaned as safe?” To answer that question scientist went into the high Rockies, looked for very “clean lakes”, sampled the water found therein and measured plutonium levels in the 10 to minus 12 (or so range) That number became the “max level of Pu allowed before we could declare a surface “clean” after “decontamination”.

    That number, the safe number, becomes very, very expensive when it goes lower and lower. ANYTHING with Pu levels above that number must be buried in a very expensive “cavern” and in very expensive containers. Levels found below that number can be “free released” into landfills, dumps, etc. containing “garbage”. I have no idea the total tons (thousands of them) of “contaminated material” (like waste from tearing down a building) that had to handled and placed in permanent underground facilities at HUGE expense to taxpayers.

    When dealing with regulators and in public hearings I liked to ask “How safe is safe” and “how clean is clean”. Zero OSHA violations, anytime anywhere, is close to “safe” for sure. But no industrial facility can achieve such a standard. Zero Pu (in ground water, dirt or debris from tearing down a building is certainly “safe” from a radioactive point of view. But such is impossible to achieve when deconstructing a 50 year old nuclear weapons factory and surrounding area.

    “Nucs” (people working with radioactive material, etc.) know the term “Minimum Detectable Activity” (MDA). It is the lowest possible level (clicks on an electronic meter) of activity that the most modern electronic device can detect. As technology improves MDA goes down, down, down. What was “safe” decades ago is now much lower today in terms of MDA. What was “clean” yesterday is “filthy”, “deadly” etc. today.

    The only way to be “safe” is “never fly an airplane (or drive a car, or own a rifle and keep it in your home, etc.) So the real question becomes “how many zeros after the decimal point” can be allowed before we can say “safe enough”?

    One “death by cop” is too much for a victim of such an event. But the only way to ensure “no cop ever kills anyone” is to allow no cops. Recall I suggested in this blog that if one wanted to ENSURE they never were shot by a cop was to “never resist an arrest”. I was called, herein, a bigot/racist for writing that observation.

    So “how safe is safe” for radioactive levels, death by cops, injury or death by “air bags”, death by car, death by air travel, etc., etc.

    When such events become politically challenged it almost seems that NO real number can ever be found after an “infinity” (mathematically) of zeros when politics gets involved.

    We had 7,000 employees at Rocky Flats working HARD to cleanup that site for years. Sure there were a few that could give a crap how they did their job and people got “contaminated” from time to time simply because they were careless in their work. But you can bet your ass an activist group would and could put some slug (sloppy worker) before a camera and he would tell the world how unsafe Rocky Flats had become for the workers/public. Tell the public in Denver “We can find Pu in your backyard” and they would go nuts, demand the government buy their home and pay for relocation!!

    How safe (or clean) is safe (or clean)? Beats the hell out of me in today’s political world. But if I worked in a nuclear power plant I would “technically” have a very good idea how to answer that question back in the days when I did such work. But you can bet your ass some “Physician against nuclear power” would have told me I was crazy to thing that way.

    HIS only solution to really be safe was and remains “no nukes” (or cars, airplanes, rifles, etc) anywhere.

    Anson

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  3. henrygmorgan

     /  March 1, 2017

    Duane: I have been interested in this story since I first became aware of it years ago. I have no doubt that the problem outlined in the news story is a common one with all Remington 700’s.

    Yet since WWII the rifle has been the official weapon of the Marine Corp Sniper Batallion. Known as the M40 in the Corps, the 700 was the official sniper rifle of all the sevices in WWII. In the 1950’s, when I was in the Marines, the Corps and the Department of Defense began a series of tests to see if some other weapon would surpass the performance, but each weapon had a series of problems, cost or weight of ammo, simplicity of operation, weight of weapon, and resistance to change from the Marine snipers was so fierce that the Corps ultimately kept the M40.

    So far as I can determine, the M40 is still the official sniper rifle of the Marines, yet I can find no mention of self-firing being a problem for them. There is my dilemma. Why has such a problem for public usage seemingly not been for the military? I blush to confess that I do not have an answer. If anyone has any information on this, I would like to hear it.
    Bud Morgan

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    • Anonymous

       /  March 1, 2017

      Dr. Morgan,

      You might find this article informative, as far as public usage problems occurring more than military, I would speculate the difference is the training and handling of the safety mechanism by professionals versus laymen.

      http://www.cnbc.com/id/39759366

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  4. Bill Miller

     /  March 2, 2017

    http://www.cnbc.com/2015/12/19/under-oath-inventor-of-controversial-remington-trigger-speaks.html
    Dr Morgan,
    I was in the Army in VN and we had a machinist who did any work needed to keep our aircraft flying. When he rotated out he ended up at a facility fixing/refining military pistols and rifles for the men at his base who shot at the range. I would also assume that the Marines go through their rifles/pistols used especially by the snipers to fine tune and their weapons for spot on accuracy. This would also include the trigger assembly to remove any burrs on parts and even make new ones as needed. These weapons used by snipers are not simple off the shelf guns or maybe they order 100 of them and only 5 make the list as being what is needed.
    The web site above actually details the trigger designer comments on his design as being slightly flawed and needed on minor changes to manufacture parameters to make it better and less prone to problems. This was back in the 40’s when his suggestion was made, but in the infinite wisdom of all companies it meant a savings of 5.5 cents per gun to stay with their modification to his design. Save a penny and lose a dollar or cutting off your nose to spite your face.

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  5. henrygmorgan

     /  March 2, 2017

    Anonymous: Thank you for the informative piece. I was stationed at Camp Lejeune in the 50’s while the early tests were being conducted, and I remember the protests they inspired at the prospect of replacing the M40 with any other product. There were several reasons for the intense loyalty, but the primary one was accuracy: at 1000 yards the M40 hit the target more often than any of the competitors. (With special ammo this superior accuracy could be extended to 1600 yards).

    In addition to accuracy, Marine snipers found that light weight, simplicity of construction which led to fewer breakdowns, ability to use the same ammo as the M-1, the standard NATO. 30 cal round that was widely available and cheap made the M40 the weapon of choice.

    The fact is that every weapon tested had its unique flaws that weighed against its selection. The Marine snipers felt that they could live with any M40 problem in exchange for the benefits derived from its use. And like all Marines, they would continue to observe the rules on gun usage:

    1. Consider every weapon to be loaded.
    2. Never point a weapon at a subject you don’t intend to shoot.

    Bud Morgan

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    • Anonymous

       /  March 2, 2017

      Dr. Morgan,

      Thank you for your service to this country! Back in the 50’s & 60’s our public was more aware of gun safety than today’s generation. Our Republican state legislature now allows mentally impaired or anyone lacking a felony conviction mover 18 years of age to own a concealed weapon.

      This mentality, is in my opinion, a direct contributor to a man being shot in the back accidentily at Crowder Range in Neosho last month. The shooter purchased a 380 handgun and shot his friend violating the rules you cited. Terrible gun safety can be observed on a daily basis.

      I fear many more instances of victims of poor safety will be seen from an unqualified armed citizenry. I had no problem with concealed carry when required gun safety classes, qualified shooting performance, liability and scenarios were discussed prior to issuing a license. Missouri’s experiment in stupidity may cost innocents the ultimate price.

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      • Bud,

        Thanks for writing in and starting this conversation about the use of those weapons in the military. I found your insights and those of the others quite educational. As a non-veteran, I have exactly zero knowledge of such things and I appreciate it when I can be educated by people who have served our country and are willing to write, intelligently, about their experiences. 

        By the way, that news about someone getting shot down at the range in Neosho is something I didn’t know. Such events, in the context of our now almost non-existent gun restrictions in Missouri, scare the hell out of me. 

        Duane

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  6. henrygmorgan

     /  March 3, 2017

    Bill Miller: Thanks for your comments and thank you for your service. You are absolutely correct about the selection process at work in choosing these weapons. In each batch of weapons purchased, some are superior to others, despite the rigorous manufacturing standards applied, and these are carefully culled to select the few that will withstand the severe demands placed upon them. These select, cream of the crop, weapons are not available to the general population and almost certainly play a part in the military/civilian disparate results.
    Bud Morgan

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  7. ansonburlingame

     /  March 3, 2017

    Great exchange.

    First key point, in my view, is when “dangerous things” are used the user needs to know what he/she is doing. A car is dangerous. But how much “training” do citizens get today before being allowed to drive. My father really worked hard to train me to drive back in the mid 50’s. I have been a “good driver” directly as a result of that training, first and foremost. After about 60 years of driving I as well have a lot of experience as a driver. But it all started with the training.

    Today, no driver’s ed in public schools, at least in Joplin. For reasons of money government no longer trains drivers, free of charge. Is that a “failure of government” (again)?

    While conservative in many areas, I remain very much in favor of rigorous gun control by the federal government. The lack of mandatory training before allowing anyone to use or own a gun can kill and it does. Again, going back to my own childhood, I learned Henry’s list of rules above by the time I was six years old. Dad and I used to shoot a single shot 22 rifle at beer cans floating on the KY river and he (ex WWII army) made damn sure I KNEW and followed those rules. For years (too old now) I was a “hunter” and remembered that training even up to today.

    It seems most of us writing herein on this subject are veterans (thanks to all for their service) and know full well the training we all went through (Henry in the 50’s, me in the early 60’s and others later on, maybe) before we could ever “touch” a loaded gun. We can all remember those really “mean instructors” on the gun range when we actually began to fire rifles and pistols. Screw up on that ranger and God help you. Ever seen such “civilian training”?

    I worked in navy nuclear matters for 23 years before transitioning to such work with civilians. I was astounded at the lack of basic training in matters nuclear when I did so. When I first arrived at Rocky Flats (50 year old nuc weapons factory) it took about two weeks to find gapping holes in “operator knowledge and adequate written procedures” within that facility. It took about 5 years to upgrade such things to something approaching “modern nuclear safety” in designs, operator training, written procedures, levels of supervision, etc. About 25 years before undertaking that task as a civilian I had been a “trainee”, receiving such training and indoctrination from “Rickover’s system” (navy nuclear training).

    The navy nuclear training that I received in 1965-66 was “brutal”, demanding (12-16 hours days and nights, etc.), and continuing throughout my 23 years of navy work. As hard as I (and many others) tried, we could never come close to achieving such levels of training and supervision as civilians, yet we had 57 TONS of weapons grade plutonium under “our” responsibility.

    But don’t worry. RF is now a “green field”, an empty 3000 acres. It is now those “104 swimming pools” around the country holding spent fuel rods that concern me. The ONLY reason such dangerous material remains as such is “politics”. We (America) has a $9 Billion “hole in the ground” (Yucca Mtn.) but still (after building it some 20 years ago) cannot put any nuclear waste therein.

    Why? “It’s not safe enough”. Yikes!!!

    Anson

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  8. ansonburlingame

     /  March 3, 2017

    Anonymous,

    Well it WAS a good exchange but now you change the subject.

    Any elected president (“draft dodging” Bill Clinton, “never served in uniform” Obama, etc.) are the Commander in Chief and have a responsibility to meet and greet the troops wherever they may be located. At least Trump didn’t have a Mission Accomplished sign behind him. Had I been the skipper I might have put up a sign saying “What mission SHOULD we now accomplish? Just give it to us and we will do it or die trying.”

    That is sort of like filling the “Obama vacuum”!!

    Anson

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    • Anonymous

       /  March 3, 2017

      Anson,

      True enough that POTUS should address the troops, however the previously civilian Commander-in-Chief donning the military wear in non-combat zones is new, occurring during our lifetime. When Lincoln visited General McClelland during the Civil War, he didn’t wear the Army greencoat, he stood surrounded by soldiers and tents in civilian clothes, complete with his infamous top hat. To the best of my recollection, Clinton didn’t dodge the draft, Senator Fulbright sought to place him in ROTC in Arkansas. Trump had no Senator, just bone spurs. The President is not military, he is our highest public servant, who utilizes the military on behalf of the people of the United States.

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  9. ansonburlingame

     /  March 4, 2017

    OK, a reasonable reply,

    But I disagree that the President is not “military”. He COMMANDS the military and legally is very much a part of that organization. No he does not wear a uniform but command, you bet he does, as part of the military. Play on words I suppose but …..

    As for a cap and “flight jacket”, hell Tom Clancy wore such things all the time and they were given to him by various military units! I refuse to get worried when someone wears such apparel.

    Anson

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    • Anonymous

       /  March 4, 2017

      Anson,

      If POTUS truly COMMANDED the military, then at any time a junta could be ordered and a military dictatorship established. A Trumpmerica if you will. Nuclear weapons at his fingertips is bad enough to allow a “counterpuncher”! Breitbart fake news, the most protests since 1968 and growing, let’s hope Cheeto doesn’t lose his cool!

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