While the federal government can mandate recalls of items including unsafe toys, cars, or medications, it is unable to do so for defective firearms. The industry self-polices its products, and has done so for decades.
“Gun manufacturers have operated without federal oversight for decades. When the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) was created by Congress in 1972 to set safety standards for most consumer products, firearms were specifically excluded from CPSC’s jurisdiction. Lawmakers in the House of Representatives feared that allowing the CPSC to regulate firearms would create a slippery slope ending with the agency keeping firearms out of the hands of law-abiding citizens. The House bill of the Consumer Protection Act banned the CPSC from asserting any regulatory control over the firearms industry, but the Senate bill made no such exemption. It was the House’s version that passed in 1976,” writes Olivia Li for The Trace.
Instead, gun safety standards are set by the Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturers’ Institute (SAMMI). It imposes maximum pressure standards, which ensure weapons don’t explode, but compliance with its standards is completely voluntary, and according to Stephen Teret, director of the Center for Law and Public Health at Johns Hopkins University, SAMMI does not solicit public feedback despite belonging to the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). What this means is that parents may share ideas with an ANSI group monitoring playground equipment, for example, but gun owners aren’t asked how to improve firearm safety features. As a result, the American gun market has been inundated with thousands of defective weapons.