120,000 gun safes recalled as U.S. warns children were able to open them

The federal government is recalling more than 120,000 biometric gun safes after reports that they could be opened without authorization — including by a child as young as 6 — putting people at risk of serious injury or death.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission on Thursday cited 91 reports of unauthorized users accessing the safes, which include Bulldog Cases, Awesafe, Machir and MouTec brands, some of which have been sold since 2019.

There were no reports of injuries or deaths associated with the recalls, which were voluntarily conducted with the companies, the agency said.

The commission’s heightened scrutiny of gun safes stems from another recall last year reportedly linked to a fatal shooting involving a 12-year-old boy who accessed a gun in a firearm safe without authorization, said CPSC Chair Alex Hoehn-Saric.

That October recall involved another manufacturer, Fortress Safe, and prompted the CPSC to step up its scrutiny of gun safes to see if there was a broader safety problem, Hoehn-Saric said in an interview. Fortress Safe declined to comment, referring NBC News to the CPSC’s recall announcement from last year.

Hoehn-Saric said the agency identified problems, including that “when people believe that it should be locked, it is not — and people are getting unauthorized access to it.”

Consumers who purchased the recalled products — which were sold by Amazon, Walmart and other major retailers — should immediately stop using the biometric feature and only use the key option to store firearms until they replace the safes, the CPSC said in its recall announcements. They can contact the companies to receive a free repair kit or replacement.

The CPSC is still trying to determine why unauthorized users have been able to access the safes, Hoehn-Saric added.

The CPSC’s recall included 33,500 safes sold by Bulldog Cases and Vaults. In a statement, the company said there were no mechanical problems with the biometric locks or the recalled safes. The safes were shipped to retailers in “demonstration mode,” allowing any fingerprint to open them until they are programmed, the company’s vice president, Brandon Rutledge, said in the statement.

“The problems have stemmed from people not programming the safes at all, or not programming them properly,” Rutledge said. “We take this matter very seriously and are working to help all customers who reach out to us.”

Other manufacturers involved in the recall did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Richard Trumka Jr., a CPSC commissioner, said that all manufacturers should ensure that biometric gun safes are not shipped with a default factory setting allowing them to be opened with any set of fingerprints.

“It’s easy for people to think they’ve set this thing up properly, and to have it still default to open for anyone,” Trumka said in an interview.

“That’s 120,000 homes that have potentially unsecured firearms,” he added. “It’s terrifying when you think you’ve done the right thing.”

While gun safes are under CPSC oversight, guns themselves are exempt from federal consumer product regulation, based on the law that created the agency in 1972. That means gun manufacturers are not bound by mandatory federal recalls and federal product safety standards — an exclusion that gun safety advocates and some members of Congress have pushed to change.

This article was originally published on NBCNews.com