Interview With Pete Noreen

Baltimore Orioles shortstop Miguel Tejada dives but can't come up with a single by the Tampa Bay Devil Rays' Carl Crawford, during the fourth inning, Tuesday night, April 17, 2007, in St. Petersburg, Fla. The Devil Rays beat Baltimore 6-4.
AP Photo/Chris O'Meara

In an interview with CBS News Correspondent Jim Stewart, gunsmith Pete Noreen talks about his experiences with the Remington Model 700 rifle. The following is a full transcript of the interview.

Pete Noreen: “This particular weapon is a Model 700 Remington. They are a very accurate firearm.

Jim Stewart: "Fair to say this is one of the most popular deer rifles in the country?"

Noreen: "It is. It’s a very popular firearm. It’s a bolt action firearm and it’s operated in this manner; the cartridges are loaded in the magazine."

Stewart: "How many does it hold?"

Noreen: "This particular rifle will hold three cartridges in the magazine and one in the chamber for a total of four rounds."

Stewart: "Where’s the safety on it?"

Noren: "This is the safety. It’s in the safe position when it’s in the rear like this. We had a problem with this particular rifle. She (Erin, his daughter) just had her hand like this pushed the safety forward and the rifle discharged."

Stewart: "How was that possible?"

Noreen: "That’s what I wondered. I was watching her and she did not have her hand in the trigger and I said you didn’t do anything wrong. I know you didn’t because I was watching you. Immediately after that, I tried to see if it would do it again and it would not. I’ve tried at length and I have not been able to replicate that discharge. Erin was simply finding a good rest to rest the gun on to give her a steadier position to look at the deer through the scope. And as she did that she pushed the safety ahead to get ready and the gun discharged."

Stewart: "You’re a trained gunsmith, made your living fixing guns. How do you explain something like that?"

Noreen: "I can’t. At the time, I didn’t know what had happened; why it did what it did."

Stewart: "Do you think you know now?"

Noreen: "I believe I know. If something, debris, foreign material, whatever, if it just decides to stick in that position, if the safety is pushed to the fire position there’s nothing to keep the gun from discharging. There was certainly a problem with it in Erin’s and my case, we had a problem with it."

Stewart: "If you allowed something to get in there lodged against this piece of metal, what’s to say you didn’t cause your own problem?"

Noreen: "That particular component is pretty well sealed. It’s not easily accessed by either me or dirt or water. Being a gunsmith, I take pretty good pride in maintaining our firearms and keeping them clean. Perhaps more so than the average person would."

Stewart: "It’s fair to say that a gun should never go off when you disengage the safety?"

Noreen: "That’s my opinion. Why is it called a safety? It should be called a trigger hen. To me the word safety should indicate and mean that the weapon is safe to handle and safe to be around. (After telling his son what happened) He said 'Dad, I had the same thing happen to me.'"

Stewart: "With this same gun?"

Noreen: "No, with this rifle; it's the same model Remington 700. Most of the time I would have viewed it as operator error."

Stewart: "Are you still skeptical?"

Noreen: "Not nearly so as I was. We have 4 Remington 700s in our family.

Stewart: "What did you think when you heard about Gus Barber?"

Noreen: "She said Barb Barber shot her little boy. And she said it was a hunting accident and I had the strangest feeling in my stomach. It chokes me up that I knew what happened. I didn’t ask anyone. I looked at the paper that day when it came out and there was no mention of what kind of firearm it was. But I knew what had happened just as clearly as if I had been there and had seen it. Judy (his wife) and I went to Gus’s funeral and the Pastor was relating to the congregation what had happened. He said that Barb had been trying to unload the Remington Model 700 and it confirmed my worst fears. I knew what had happened. I knew that as she pushed that safety forward, the rifle had discharged."

Noreen: "I’m a very staunch supporter of the second amendment of firearms ownership, but I firmly believe that with this particular model of gun there is a problem. I’ve discovered a number of other people who’ve had the same problem and we all thought it was just an isolated incident. It’s not an isolated incident. I would think that any company that produced a product that had the potential to take someone’s life and was aware of a problem and didn’t remedy the problem, for whatever reason, certainly isn’t fulfilling their obligation to the public."

Noreen: "The ultimate responsibility with all of us is where we have our weapon pointed. But that weapon wouldn’t have discharged had there not been a flaw, a problem with the trigger safety mechanism. This particular gun has been manufactured for 50 years and in 50 years worth of time I think the opportunity has been there to have remedied the situation perhaps a long time ago and far more inexpensively than today."

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