U.S. Could Order Defective-Gun Recalls Under Lawmaker's Bill

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(Bloomberg) -- A Democratic U.S. House member introduced legislation that would give the federal government the power to recall defective firearms -- a bill that may face long odds in Congress.

Representative Debbie Dingell of Michigan’s legislation would allow the Consumer Product Safety Commission to issue safety warnings or order recalls of defective guns. No government agency, including the commission, has the power to order gunmakers to recall guns due to defects.

The legislation follows a Bloomberg Businessweek report in February that revealed how Congress blocked attempts to give the government authority to police defective guns when the CPSC was created in 1972. A leading advocate for excluding guns from the commission’s mandate was former Representative John Dingell of Michigan, who is Debbie Dingell’s husband.

The agency can order the recall of “thousands of defective products, from bicycles to high chairs to light bulbs,” Debbie Dingell said in a statement Wednesday. “However, if a firearm is found to be defective or pose a safety risk, nothing can be done to address it.”

Bloomberg’s report detailed lawsuits dating back a decade that accused Forjas Taurus SA, the maker of some of America’s best-selling guns, of product defects that left people dead or injured. Taurus agreed to fix, replace or repair almost 1 million handguns to settle a class-action lawsuit alleging defects. The company, in the settlement and in multiple statements, has said its guns are not defective.

Several bills aimed at enhancing federal authority over defective arms have died in Congress since the 1970s amid fierce opposition from gun owners and the National Rifle Association.

“This legislation will help ensure that defective and unsafe guns are addressed immediately so we can prevent accidents that can turn deadly,” Dingell said.

The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, a Washington-based advocacy group, said the bill would protect consumers. “Representative Dingell’s bill would remove a loophole that never should have existed in the first place,” Brady Campaign co-president Kris Brown said in an emailed statement.

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