Fortress recalls 61,000 biometric gun safes after 12-year-old dies

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Roughly 61,000 biometric gun safes sold nationwide are being recalled after the shooting death of a 12-year-old boy, Fortress Safe and the U.S. Consumer Product Commission announced on Thursday.

The recalled safe poses a serious safety hazard and risk of death due to a programming feature that can allow unauthorized users, including children, access to the safe and its potential deadly contents, including firearms, according to the Naperville, Illinois-based company and regulatory agency.

CPSC noted a recent lawsuit alleging a 12-year-old boy had died from a firearm obtained from one of the safes. Additionally, the agency cited 39 incidents of safe owners reporting the product had been accessed by unpaired fingerprints. 

The youth who died “suffered a lethal gunshot wound to the head” in January 2022 after he was able to access the safe in his home, according to a lawsuit filed earlier this year in a Nevada court, the New York Times reported.

The boy’s father has purchased the safe in March 2021 at a Scheel’s store in Nevada, the newspaper stated, citing the lawsuit.

Recalled Fortress Portable Safe with Biometric Lock, Model 11B20 U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission

Made in China, the recalled safes were sold at retailers nationwide including Bass Pro Shops, Cabela’s, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Gander, Lowe’s, Optics Planet, Rural King, Scheel’s and Sportsman’s Guide, as well as online at eBay and Amazon from January 2019 through October 2023 for between $44 and $290.

The recalled safes include the following model numbers: 11B20, 44B10, 44B10L, 44B20, 55B20, 55B30, 55B30G, 4BGGBP and 55B30BP. 

Owners of the gun safes should stop using the biometric features, remove the batteries from the safe, and only use the key for the recalled safes. Owners can contact the company to get instructions on disabling the biometric feature and to receive a free replacement safe.

Fortress Safe can be reached at 833-588-9191 or online here or here. Consumers experiencing issues with a recall remedy can fill out a complaint form with the CPSC here.

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The recall comes as an increasing number of young people are dying from gunfire. Researchers from University of Michigan reported in 2020 that firearms had overtaken vehicle crashes as the primary cause of death among American children and adolescents for the first time in 60 years of compiling numbers. 

Based on data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the researchers found a record 45,222 people died in the U.S. from firearm-related injuries in 2020, with 10,186, or 22.5%, ages 1 to 19. 

The death count has been trending higher in recent years but surged during the pandemic, with gun sales increasing 64% in 2020 from the prior year and unintentional shooting deaths by children in 2020 spiking by almost a third, according to Everytown.

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