A medical device includes a control handle, an end effector, and a passive articulating joint connecting the end effector to the handle. The handle has a stapling actuator, an articulation joint actuator different from the stapling actuator, and a body through which the stapling and articulation joint actuators traverse. The end effector has an anvil, a stapler cartridge with staples, and an anvil-cartridge control device connected thereto and to the stapling actuator and staples when the stapling actuator is actuated. The stapling actuator passes through the articulating joint and flexes correspondingly to articulation of the articulating joint. The articulation joint actuator, when unactuated, holds the articulation joint and, thereby, the end effector, in a substantially fixed articulation position, and, when actuated, releases the articulation joint into its freely articulating state to permit free articulation of the end effector dependent upon external forces acting upon the end effector.