Brandon's Arms
August 9, 2004 5:30 PM   Subscribe

When he was seven years old, Brandon Maxfield was accidentally shot in the face, becoming permanently paralyzed below the neck. [More inside]
posted by mr_crash_davis (50 comments total)

 
A unanimous jury found Bryco Arms, the manufacturer of the pistol, responsible for its defective design and for Brandon's injuries and medical expenses. Rather than redesign the pistols and fairly compensate Brandon, Bryco Arms and the pistol's designer Bruce Jennings declared bankruptcy, and are now attempting to reorganize under a new name to continue making the same defective “Saturday Night Specials,” placing more innocent children at risk.

Last year the teen won a record $24 million judgment against Bryco Arms, its distribution arm and its owner. Bryco was forced into bankruptcy, and on Thursday, a federal judge in Florida will auction off 75,600 unassembled guns and other remaining assets.

Maxfield hopes to buy the inventory, melt it down and create a sculpture from the metal.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 5:30 PM on August 9, 2004


Rule #1: Always keep the firearm pointed down range.

Shame.
posted by Witty at 5:45 PM on August 9, 2004


Jesus, that Bruce Jennings guy sounds like a complete idiot. What an ignorant SOB.
posted by dobbs at 5:46 PM on August 9, 2004


Rule #0: Don't put something you know to be faulty onto the market.
posted by Space Coyote at 5:48 PM on August 9, 2004


Bad news all around on this one - damn. But seriously -- shouldn't Rule #1 be DON'T MESS WITH GUNS AROUND CHILDREN? I mean, EVER?
posted by davidmsc at 6:03 PM on August 9, 2004


Dude, I would donate money to help him fund his takeover bid.

I suggest he builds a number of smaller statues, and donates them to these companies.
posted by tapeguy at 6:04 PM on August 9, 2004


Anyone else think it's odd that when the makers of handguns known to be unsafe and defective goes bankrupt, the government ........ sells those same handguns to the highest bidder? WTF?
posted by kenko at 6:40 PM on August 9, 2004


Rule #-1: Always assume the firearm is faulty, broken, whatever... and keep the damn thing pointed down range.

I've owned and handled guns all my life and I have yet to find myself on the business end of ANY loaded gun. The only time I've ever seen the muzzle end of any gun is when I've known that it's been unloaded, double-checked and slightly dismantled for cleaning. I'm aware that accidents happen, they always will. But the rules are simple. If you follow them, religiously, consistently, every time, alone or in a group, these kinds of accidents won't happen... ever.
posted by Witty at 6:55 PM on August 9, 2004


...unless you're a kid who doesn't know these rules and has access to a gun whose owners don't know the rules, either.
posted by interrobang at 6:58 PM on August 9, 2004


Who points a loaded gun with the safety off at a kid, for chrissakes? When I was in Boy Scouts and at camp, we were given little .22 bolt-action popguns to plink at targets downrange, and they told us straight up that if we ever pointed those things at another human being, loaded or not, we'd be thrown off the range and never allowed back onto it.
posted by Pseudoephedrine at 6:58 PM on August 9, 2004


...unless you're a kid who doesn't know these rules and has access to a gun whose owners don't know the rules, either.

Well, then you can't blame the manufacturer.
posted by Witty at 7:26 PM on August 9, 2004


Who points a loaded gun with the safety off at a kid, for chrissakes?

Who manufactures a gun that CAN'T be unloaded unless the safety is off, for chrissakes?
posted by dobbs at 7:47 PM on August 9, 2004


Browsing the site and the news articles, I still can't find where it describes how Brandon was accidentally shot. Maybe I missed it. Was he the unwitting victim of a drive-by? Was someone in his family playing with a gun? What happened?

PS To be honest, I didn't even know they made Saturday Night Specials anymore. Years ago (circa 1978) the joke was always "don't shoot a robber with a Sat Nite Special; you'll make him angry enough to kill you."
posted by Oriole Adams at 7:59 PM on August 9, 2004


Who manufactures a gun that CAN'T be unloaded unless the safety is off, for chrissakes?

Very true. But it's still know excuse for what happened.
posted by Witty at 8:03 PM on August 9, 2004


dobbs> Idiots in both cases, I suppose. Still, a poorly designed gun isn't going to kill anyone unless mishandled.
posted by Pseudoephedrine at 8:06 PM on August 9, 2004


Oriole, it's in the article:

"Maxfield's life-changing injury happened when he was 7 and a 20-year-old family friend who was babysitting thought he heard a suspicious noise and grabbed a gun from a dresser drawer. The babysitter called Brandon's mother, who instructed him to immediately unload the .38-caliber pistol. While trying to do that, the babysitter accidentally pulled the trigger."

Later in the article it mentions that the gun can not be unloaded unless the safety is OFF.
posted by dobbs at 8:29 PM on August 9, 2004


His goddamn MOTHER should have had better sense than to leave a loaded pistol lying around in kid-accessible drawers.

If there's anyone at fault, it's the parents. No one else at all should be held liable in this case.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:23 PM on August 9, 2004


Oriole, it's in the article

Thanks for the info. I looked at the main page linked, and the page marked Brandon Maxfield, and still haven't found the article.
posted by Oriole Adams at 10:22 PM on August 9, 2004



His goddamn MOTHER should have had better sense than to leave a loaded pistol lying around in kid-accessible drawers.


The person handling the weapon was a twenty-year-old. Now, we can argue until the cows come home about owning weapons, but it would be somewhat beside the point. The weapon's safety features were poorly designed and the gun manufacturer got what they deserved for it.

Now, obviously, you have to wonder why the twenty-year-old automatically would go for a gun because of "a suspicious noise", which is probably why the mother told him to unload the gun when he phoned her. Regardless, it's not really what was in question here.
posted by The God Complex at 10:32 PM on August 9, 2004


>Very true. But it's still know excuse for what happened.

Who is talking excuses, this is all about liability. This is the equivalent of designing a car in which the seat belts can only be applied when the car is moving or when the door is open. Its a good ruling and will help keep dangerous products, be it the hot button issue of guns or badly designed futon mattresses from being sold in the future.

Your complete lack of sympathy and blaming the victim here is pretty sad. Maybe you should phone him up and tell him it was for his own good and he's abusing the legal system. You've posted 4 times in this thread already. We get it, you like guns and can't seem to understand the simple concept of manufacturer liability. I'm a gun owner too (so are many mefites), but I sure as hell am not blinded by gun-love to not be able to admit that this company was dead wrong in its design and deserves severe punishment.

Its a shame the gun community is just filled with pricks. A quick google search brings up this wonderful comment.

"It's to bad that family member didn't kill the stupid ****."

No wonder I refuse to join the NRA or join the "gun politics" bandwagon.
posted by skallas at 10:54 PM on August 9, 2004


When I was in Boy Scouts and at camp, we were given little .22 bolt-action popguns to plink at targets downrange, and they told us straight up that if we ever pointed those things at another human being, loaded or not, we'd be thrown off the range and never allowed back onto it.

Hey, cool. I was one of those range officers for many, many years, and that was absolutely true. We never had an injury and I think a lot of kids came away with a thorough understanding of the safe handling of firearms. It's too late to uninvent guns and since they exist, I think it's sure a lot better for people to know how not to shoot themselves or others by accident.
posted by milovoo at 11:23 PM on August 9, 2004


skallas, thanks for the post. I wrote something I would have regretted posting so I axed it. Your response is much more level headed.
posted by dobbs at 11:30 PM on August 9, 2004


This is the equivalent of designing a car in which the seat belts can only be applied when the car is moving or when the door is open.

Well, except that no reasonable person would buy a car like that.


A cheaply-made, cheaply-sold product lacks the features of a similar, more expensive product? Shocking!
posted by trharlan at 12:04 AM on August 10, 2004


Hey skallas... fuck off. I don't have a problem with the ruling. The gun is/was a piece of shit. But this is still a case of laying the blame on someone else for one person's negligence, stupidity, ignorance and poor decision-making skills. Wouldn't "put the gun away" have been a slightly better piece of advice from mom than "unload it"? He still shouldn't have had it pointed at the kid. He still shouldn't have had his finger on the trigger while trying to unload it, etc. etc. It's not like the gun exploded or fired backwards.

This is the equivalent of designing a car in which the seat belts can only be applied when the car is moving or when the door is open.

I guess. But if it were me driving such a car, I wouldn't do it at 85mph while bearing down on a schoolyard full of children. The gun is a shitty product and the manufacturer got what they deserved (there are you happy). But to sit back and pretend, under a veil of compassion, that the babysitter (and mother) are blameless in this whole thing is idiotic.

Your complete lack of sympathy and blaming the victim here is pretty sad.

Oh I'm sorry. I didn't realize this thread was supposed to be Hallmark card. I have sympathy for the kid, sure. I wish it hadn't happened. Are we going to talk about the case or shed tears?

No wonder I refuse to join the NRA or join the "gun politics" bandwagon.

Good. And you might want to turn your guns into the local police so you don't accidently cap yourself. The gun "community" (if there is such a thing) is doing fine without you.
posted by Witty at 12:11 AM on August 10, 2004


The website also says 'Their sole justification is "armed confrontation between individuals." They are designed to be concealed, which is illegal in most states. Many are sold with fingerprint resistant finishes.'

So why exactly did his parents have one lying around the house?
posted by biffa at 2:29 AM on August 10, 2004


fuck off

The advice to always follow the rules and be level-headed kinda falls on deaf ears when dispensed by gun lovers with short temper

/Just sayin'
posted by magullo at 2:44 AM on August 10, 2004


Fuck I hate that word -- pistol.

I don't know why. I just do.
posted by crasspastor at 3:24 AM on August 10, 2004



The picture of him as a happy baby almost brings a tear to my eye.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 5:04 AM on August 10, 2004


Regardless of whether or not the safety had to be off to unload the gun, the 20 year old had her finger on the trigger. A gun just doesn't fire by itself.

The mother should not have instructed someone with no firearms experience to touch the gun. Nor should a loaded gun have been kept where a child could have gotten a hold of it.

It is not Bryco's fault that the gun was left, loaded, where anyone could have gotten to it. Nor is it there fault that someone put their finger on the trigger while unloading it, and had it pointed in an unsafe direction.
posted by SuzySmith at 5:09 AM on August 10, 2004


Exactly... just take a look at the Glock 17 for example. The safety catch is on the trigger. Most people have no idea what a safety catch actually does.

The entire point of a safety catch is to make sure that the gun does not go off unless you pull the trigger, for example, if should prevent the gun from going off if you were to drop it. Revolvers don't generally have safety catches because they have enough built in safety features, such that they won't go off unless you pull the trigger.

Look at certain models of Beretta pistol, too. Some of them don't have safeties, they have a decocker and a double action mode. Such models of Beretta will not discharge unless you pull the trigger, can be safely carried with the hammer down, and will fire when the trigger is pulled without having to be cocked first. No safety catch required.

If you're trained in firearms handling, you don't ever put your finger anywhere near the trigger unless you intend to fire the gun. If you haven't received such training, well, stuff like this happens. Guns are machines designed to kill, and need to be treated as such. Some people seem to treat them like cellphones.
posted by chrid at 5:33 AM on August 10, 2004


I grew up in a household with two parents who were law enforcement officers (Mom still is, actually). I was taught:

- Never, EVER, bring a loaded gun into the house.
- Even if you know a gun is unloaded, treat it as if it IS loaded at all times.
- Don't point a gun at anything you don't intend to kill.
- If you're handing a gun to someone, eject the magazine and rack the slide back, or kick the cylinder out, first.

Given these rules (and that I was taught them as soon as I was old enough to understand them), we never had a single problem even with lots of firearms around the house. We were taught to not be afraid of guns, but to respect them.

Led to a funny scene a couple of years ago when I finally took my wife "home" to show here where I'd grown up. Sitting at the kitchen table, Mom was cooking breakfast about ten feet away.

me: "Mom, still got that nice S&W 9mm you showed me last time I was here?"
Mom continues cooking, then without a word, reaches behind the flour jar, pulls out a night deposit bag, unzips it, pulls out the S&W, drops the magazine, locks the slide back, and hands it to me. This is all in a couple of fluid, practiced motions.
me: "mmm, nice! I like the balance"
my wife: *open-mouthed stare*

My mother and I laughed.
posted by mrbill at 6:59 AM on August 10, 2004


Gun training and all, shit still happens.

Happens to cops

Happens to pro-gun politicians

Please stop pretending it cannot possibly happen "if you follow the rules".

/Disclaimer: I think shooting guns is fun ... and way too dangerous as well
posted by magullo at 7:06 AM on August 10, 2004


"don't shoot a robber with a Sat Nite Special; you'll make him angry enough to kill you."

This is off-topic, but did anyone else ever see the episode of COPS or whatever where a store owner was shot in the head with a "saturday night special" and it merely cut his scalp and bounced off?

That was one pissed-off man!
posted by Mayor Curley at 7:15 AM on August 10, 2004


But when tricycles are outlawed, only outlaws will have tricycles.
posted by DrJohnEvans at 7:25 AM on August 10, 2004


I am of 2 minds on this one. First, it's nice to see an irresponsible manufacturer get nailed. But, on the other hand, what percentage of the blame lies with the manufacturer? I don't hold them entirely blameless, but then they aren't completely at fault. I guess what really stirs the pot on this one is that it is about guns, which are so divisive and polarized.
posted by Eekacat at 7:32 AM on August 10, 2004


Gun training and all, shit still happens.

Happens to cops

Happens to pro-gun politicians

Please stop pretending it cannot possibly happen "if you follow the rules".


And in all cases, they were not following the rules, plain and simple. They were negligent discharges, as there is no such thing as an accidental discharge in modern day firearms. The so called "accidental discharge" was a case of not confirming it was loaded and someone's finger was on the trigger.

In the case of Glock's, they have a dual trigger, both pieces must be pulled in order to fire. If you don't put your finger in the trigger guard and pull the trigger it will not fire.

As for Glock's supposed 3.5 lb trigger. It sure as hell doesn't come stock with that. It has a 5.5 lb stock trigger and there is also a 12 LB NYPD trigger available.

There are four simple rules to gun safety, in all cases of negligent discharges more than one of them has been violated:

Rule # 1
Treat all guns as if they are loaded.

Rule # 2

Never let the muzzle of a gun point at anything you do not want to destroy or kill.

Rule # 3

Keep your finger straight and off the trigger.

Rule # 4

Be absolutely sure of your target, and what is behind it.
posted by SuzySmith at 8:13 AM on August 10, 2004


Yeah, because they're more effective than:

Rule #1

Don't have anything to do with guns.
posted by biffa at 8:37 AM on August 10, 2004


Tragic story all the way around. Either that babysitter had seen the gun in the drawer before, or the mother had instructed him prior to leaving that it was there in case he "needed it." (Why didn't the guy just call 911 if he thought there was an intruder? Why grab a gun and then call the mother?) Anyway, the babysitter and the mother have to live with this the rest of their lives (so does Bryco, but companies usually don't have consciences). So while Brandon is suffering the after effects of this blunder every day of his life, so are his former babysitter and mother. Very, very sad.
posted by Oriole Adams at 9:09 AM on August 10, 2004


Good advice for next time derbs. It was a bit of a rush job.
It's really obvious to those of us who surf images off. You'd have to include and format the image tag text.
posted by Mitheral at 9:37 AM on August 10, 2004


And in all cases, they were not following the rules, plain and simple.

Precisely my point. "ALWAYS follow ALL the rules" is a principle that cannot be relied on realistically when dealing with large groups of people. Period.
posted by magullo at 9:52 AM on August 10, 2004


Precisely my point. "ALWAYS follow ALL the rules" is a principle that cannot be relied on realistically when dealing with large groups of people. Period.

So, because some people act carelessly, the manufacturers should be held responsible?

If so, I'm suing those who made the Lumina, as I was in a car accident (I was the passenger) and was injured due to the the neglect of the driver of the vehicle.

Now, who's fault was the car accident? The driver's or the car manufacturer?

The gun was used improperly, the baby sitter admitted to pulling the trigger. It was not Bryco's fault.

The lawsuit should have been against the baby sitter and the child's mother not the manufacturer. They were negligent. (I see now, they were sued but, have no money, so let's punish a company.)

I have handled many firearms, I have never had a negligent discharge. My husband has handled many firearms with no negligent discharge. There are millions of gun owners in the USA alone that have never had negligent discharges. You don't punish everyone due to the stupidity of the few.
posted by SuzySmith at 10:14 AM on August 10, 2004


But the absolute bottom line is that the only person ultimately responsible for the whole sordid mess is the mother. At every step, she made the choices that led to this event.

The Saturday Night Special is a perfectly safe gun when treated with the respect that all guns demand.

And I say all this as someone who thinks handguns are among the stupidest ideas going, and am revolted by the orgy of paranoia that keeps so many Americans armed with such deadly weapons.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:34 AM on August 10, 2004


If so, I'm suing those who made the Lumina, as I was in a car accident (I was the passenger) and was injured due to the the neglect of the driver of the vehicle.

Apples and oranges. Motor vehicles must meet a hell of a lot more government restrictions and regulations than guns (plenty of 'em to ensure their relative safety). And car drivers must also meet much more stringent rules and regulations than gun owners.
posted by magullo at 10:41 AM on August 10, 2004


I have handled many firearms, I have never had a negligent discharge. My husband has handled many firearms with no negligent discharge.

*throws a parade for SuzySmith and her husband*
posted by dobbs at 12:02 PM on August 10, 2004


shouldn't Rule #1 be DON'T MESS WITH GUNS AROUND CHILDREN?

Okay, as long as we never put children in automobiles anymore, either. They're dangerous.

Seriously, I agree with you in sentiment and would never, ever buy a gun period. But the possibility does exist for a gun to be poorly designed and even more dangerous than its supposed to be. If that's the finding of the court, then I don't think we can relieve the manufacturer of all responsibility on the grounds that "smart people don't shoot themselves."

We want our cars to be as safe as possible, even though they are inherently dangerous, right?
posted by scarabic at 12:46 PM on August 10, 2004


uh, when, uh, you and your, uh, husband handle the many firearms together with the, er, intentional discharge, do you, um, you know, take any, ah... pictures of that you could, like, you know, like post on the intarweb?
posted by scarabic at 12:57 PM on August 10, 2004


Cars are poorly designed and more dangerous than necessary.

Take side impact beams, for instance. They're a recent innovation. Up until about five years ago, placing your child in the car meant taking the risk that in a side collision your kid would be in grave danger. Even today, not all cars have them.

If you purchased a car today, and your kid got hurt because the particular model you chose didn't have side impact beams, are you going to sue the manufacturer for the decision you made to purchase a less-safe car?

As for "if that's the finding of the court," one need only look at the ludicrous safety warnings on hair dryers ("do not use in bathtub!") as proof that the court system isn't all that.
posted by five fresh fish at 1:41 PM on August 10, 2004


But the absolute bottom line is that the only person ultimately responsible for the whole sordid mess is the mother. At every step, she made the choices that led to this event.

And, now I'm in shock as I can't believe five fresh fish agreed with me on this.

Apples and oranges. Motor vehicles must meet a hell of a lot more government restrictions and regulations than guns (plenty of 'em to ensure their relative safety). And car drivers must also meet much more stringent rules and regulations than gun owners.

Do you realize how many different regulations there are on firearms in the USA? There are tens of thousands of pages of what is required of them and of the owners. Guns are throughly regulated in the USA.

I do agree that driver's have more regulations but, driving is not part of the bill of rights, gun ownership is.

If that's the finding of the court, then I don't think we can relieve the manufacturer of all responsibility on the grounds that "smart people don't shoot themselves."

But, the gun functioned as it is supposed to. It didn't just go off, the trigger was pulled and it shot a bullet out of it. How is that negligent?

There are numerous handguns that require a variety of ways to be unloaded or disassembled. My XD9 requires me to pull the trigger during the disassembly, so does a Glock. It really is a matter of common sense. You check the gun every time, you treat them as if they were loaded, even if you have checked the gun and you are sure it is loaded, you never point it at anything you don't wish to destroy or kill.

uh, when, uh, you and your, uh, husband handle the many firearms together with the, er, intentional discharge, do you, um, you know, take any, ah... pictures of that you could, like, you know, like post on the intarweb?

har!
posted by SuzySmith at 3:32 PM on August 10, 2004


The website also says 'Their sole justification is "armed confrontation between individuals." They are designed to be concealed, which is illegal in most states. Many are sold with fingerprint resistant finishes.'

Gotta love the FUD

There are only 7 states that don’t allow concealed carry, which hardly constitutes ‘most states’

Finger print resistant finishes prevent rust and permanent etching (i.e. corrosion) by acids in skin secretions onto dry bare unfinished metal. These finishes do not prevent skin secretions from sitting on the surface, so these latent finger prints can still be retrieved by normal police forensic methods.
posted by Tenuki at 5:12 PM on August 10, 2004


If you purchased a car today, and your kid got hurt because the particular model you chose didn't have side impact beams, are you going to sue the manufacturer for the decision you made to purchase a less-safe car?

That would depend on the finding of a court, based on whether it was negligent or not to leave that feature out. I doubt it's negligent to leave it out because it hadn't been invented at the time of production, or because it's not yet required by law to be there. Besides, you're inserting the "accident" into this equation, where it doesn't belong. A truly defective product will be dangerous even during normal operation.

Does anyone know the details of what the gun manufacturer did that was negligent, what the "defect" in their product was? Everyone's just assuming it was user error, when the court found decisively that the product was defective!

More importantly: does anyone care? Or do we suddenly live in a society where people can sell whatever kind of shit products they like with no accountability? I feel like an ass even discussing this. Anyone who's a part of this discussion is very likely the beneficiary of safety regulations imposed on product manufacturers.

The cavalier attitude that we're really just on our own, free to use products or not, withonly our wits to protect us is not only ignorant but hypocritical. If you think you're alive today because you're just so damn smart, you're likely overlooking decades of safety regulations built into the products you use every day.
posted by scarabic at 9:47 PM on August 11, 2004


« Older Gmail Apps...  |  Yesterday's really crappy movi... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments