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I have been reading a thread in the revolver section and it brought a question to my mind...

I have always heard that one should never modify a defensive firearm and only use factory ammo. Now by "never modify" I mean the likes of a trigger job. I am not referring to replacing the sights or the grips.

I have been lead to believe that the 'deeper' modifications can be considered a liability in court... "You *MADE* that gun to kill someone didn't you son?!"

Have I been listening to the wrong jailhouse lawyer?

What modifications have you done to your defensive firearms?
 

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First determine WHICH of the many available sidearms (in a reasonably effective caliber, that is) you can shoot most accurately and quickly and comfortably.

Next, do whatever is required to make your chosen sidearm as thoroughly reliable as possible.
If there are reasonable things you can do which enhance the overall safety of the sidearm, do those, but DON'T do things that uninformed people wrongly consider "safe", but which actually usually detract from readiness and usefulness, such as making the trigger pull notably heavier*, adding key locks, adding "magazine safeties", etc.

Now, any modifications you've made will be explicable and defensible and will show that you applied the standard of a "reasonable man" in attempting to make your sidearm the best combination of "effective" and "safe" that you could. If you can clearly articulate WHY you did WHAT you did, and assuming your attorney knows how to use this information, you should be fine.

All my guns have had trigger work to make the triggers easy to pull and "creepless", dehorning work to make the guns easy to hold and shoot, and reliability work.



*Obviously, you don't want a "hair trigger" (whatever that is!), but as Jeff Cooper says, "a trigger you can use", that enhances your ability to shoot well but isn't unstable.
 

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A good and justifiable shoot is just that. The weapon doesn't matter. Modifications to the weapon don't matter. All that matters is that you were justified in your decision to shoot someone.

If you have been found justified in your shooting, then it doesn't matter what ammo was used either (factory or handloads).

Unless you have Bozo the Clown for your attorney, the use of handloads does not turn an otherwise innocent man into a murderer - neither does his choice of weapon or modifications to it.
 

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Agrees, but...

shane45-1911 said:
A good and justifiable shoot is just that. The weapon doesn't matter. Modifications to the weapon don't matter. All that matters is that you were justified in your decision to shoot someone.

If you have been found justified in your shooting, then it doesn't matter what ammo was used either (factory or handloads).
It can be easier to defend yourself if you are using a factory gun with factory loads. Testing can be done after the fact with factory loads (provided you know the lot number), which can prove what distance the perp was shot at ect... Also, a modified gun can be used against you by an unscrupulous prosecutor (he/she will use prejudicial language like "hair trigger" and paint you as "Rambo"), that a good lawyer can defeat, but why go through the hassle?

Just my 2¢

Robert
 

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thearmedrebel said:
but why go through the hassle?
It WILL be a hassle no matter what you do. You are damned if you do, and damned if you don't.

It is your actions that are under scrutiny. If you are legally able to own and/or carry the weapon that you used in a self-defense shooting, then that is all that matters. A "trigger-job" does not turn a legally owned weapon into an illegal one. Neither does loading it with handloads.

Any decent lawyer will be able to dismiss any "Rambo" allegations. A trigger job allows you to shoot more accurately, as does your choice of handloads. After all, you don't want to be hitting "innocent bystanders" now, do you? If you have made the choice to pull the trigger, then what comes out the barrel is of little consequence in a self defense scenario. Make sure you had every legal right/reason/motive to pull the trigger, and it shouldn't matter if you shot someone with a Howitzer.
 

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shane45-1911 said:
A good and justifiable shoot is just that. The weapon doesn't matter. Modifications to the weapon don't matter. All that matters is that you were justified in your decision to shoot someone.

If you have been found justified in your shooting, then it doesn't matter what ammo was used either (factory or handloads).
I would pretty much agree with Shane if a criminal trial were all that was involved. But a shooting case does not always end with an acquital on criminal charges. When certain factors are involved (primarily race), there is almost certain to be a "trial by press", in which every bit of information from the criminal trial and from "leaks" by official sources can be used to paint the shooter as a depraved, evil monster.

In a civil trial, that will continue, and the plaintiff's lawyers will (and can) use every trick and vicious form of attack available to them. Remember, there is a lot more leeway in a civil case than in a criminal trial, and attorneys out for the shooter's money will use every means to get the last dollar. The victim will be painted as an innocent soul, gunned down by an evil monster who "hunted down the deceased and killed him with deadly hollow point bullets he could not buy but secretly made himself in his hidden workshop...fired from a gun he modified specially to slaughter the innocent... etc., etc." With a jury of grandmothers who look more like the victim than they do the shooter, I would not want to be in the shooter's place.

Jim
 

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Jim Keenan said:
In a civil trial, that will continue, and the plaintiff's lawyers will (and can) use every trick and vicious form of attack available to them.
I agree. Make sure you have a good lawyer for the criminal trial. Make sure you have a great lawyer for the civil proceedings.
 

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Isn't it possible for the good guy to win the "trial by press" as well? Perhaps it's my cockeyed opitmism talking here, but at some point it would seem a good stratagem for the GG to avail himself of local conservative talk radio to make his side of the story heard loud and clear in the community.

In my area there is an a.m. station that reaches the entire Midwest U.S. They employ at least two on-air personalities that would just LOVE to have a "righteous shooter" come on their show and tell their side of things.

Of course it MAY be best to wait until after criminal proceedings to talk to the media. (Hopefully that would consist of the D.A. saying "Heck no I'm not going to try to indict that guy, he did GOOD!" Again, maybe that's the optimist in me coming out once more..)
 

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Brian Dover said:
Isn't it possible for the good guy to win the "trial by press" as well?
Not in North America, apparently.

As long as most media organizations are owned and operated by bleeding-heart liberals, you are already guilty in their eyes simply because you OWN a gun - much less use it to shoot someone.

You may be lucky and find friendly support in your local radio station or newspaper - but I wouldn't count on it.
 

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SAWBONES said:
First determine WHICH of the many available sidearms (in a reasonably effective caliber, that is) you can shoot most accurately and quickly and comfortably.

Next, do whatever is required to make your chosen sidearm as thoroughly reliable as possible.
If there are reasonable things you can do which enhance the overall safety of the sidearm, do those, but DON'T do things that uninformed people wrongly consider "safe", but which actually usually detract from readiness and usefulness, such as making the trigger pull notably heavier*, adding key locks, adding "magazine safeties", etc.

Now, any modifications you've made will be explicable and defensible and will show that you applied the standard of a "reasonable man" in attempting to make your sidearm the best combination of "effective" and "safe" that you could. If you can clearly articulate WHY you did WHAT you did, and assuming your attorney knows how to use this information, you should be fine.

All my guns have had trigger work to make the triggers easy to pull and "creepless", dehorning work to make the guns easy to hold and shoot, and reliability work.



*Obviously, you don't want a "hair trigger" (whatever that is!), but as Jeff Cooper says, "a trigger you can use", that enhances your ability to shoot well but isn't unstable.
+1. This is pretty much all that needs to be said on the subject. Can modifications be an issue? Absolutely. Anything can be an issue in a trial. Ever seen a case hinge in part on misidentification of a witness based on foul language? I have.

But can that be dealt with? Again, absolutely.
 

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Could you US citizens please explain something to me?
Let's say there's a self defense shooting and the GG shoots and kills or disables the BG.
I guess a criminal trial in that case would be to determine if the GG was justified in taking lethal action (shooting) the BG, and it would be filed by the State rather than a private party.
But what is a civil trial? I know they are usually filed by the relatives of the deseased or injured (in this example the BG), I know they are usually settled for tons of money and I know some cases are critisized for being superflous or even stupid (like those famous McDonalds made me fat cases). But, back to the self defense shooting example, I don't understand the purpose of a civil trial, if you were already through a criminal trial. In a self defense shooting case, what coud a civil trial be about?
 

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shane45-1911 said:
A good and justifiable shoot is just that. The weapon doesn't matter. Modifications to the weapon don't matter. All that matters is that you were justified in your decision to shoot someone.

If you have been found justified in your shooting, then it doesn't matter what ammo was used either (factory or handloads).

I asked my daughter in law, who worked for the Dallas DAs office basically the same question, and included head shots, and she said basically the same as shane45 stated above. Justifiability of deadly force is the key issue here, not the tool used or where someone is shot.
 

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Big crush said:
Same thing all civil trials are about in the states $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$.
Yes, I assumed that. Perhaps I didn't make myself clear enough.
If a person has already been dismissed of a self defense shooting case in criminal trial as non guilty, then on what grounds can a third party iniciate a civil trial against the person?
 

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Pierruiggi said:
If a person has already been dismissed of a self defense shooting case in criminal trial as non guilty, then on what grounds can a third party iniciate a civil trial against the person?
In the U.S. (and Canada) you can sue anybody for anything if you find a lawyer willing to take the case. An aquittal in a criminal case does not mean you are free from civil prosecution, if someone wants to sue you privately.

By winning your criminal case, it simply means that the government can't get any (more) of your money or time (in prison). It doesn't mean that anyone else that wants a piece of you cannot have their day in court.
 

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Right, but, what can a private party sue you for in a self defense shooting scenario? Can they sue you for something really stupid, like making loud noises and disturbing peace? Can they sue you for a ricochet that dinged their car? That's where my question is leading.
Are you saying the ONLY limit on the amount of cases that can be thrown against you is in the willingness (I hope that's a word) of lawyers? :hrm:
 

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Wrongful death is one thing they can sue you for in a civil proceeding. Negligence would probably be common as well in a proceeding where the events did not lead to someone's death. The burden of proof in a criminal case is "beyond a shadow of a doubt" -- let's call that 90% or whatever. In a civil case it's a "preponderance of the evidence", or put more simply, that one side's argument is more likely than not (51%). So while you can be found not guily in a criminal proceeding, you could still be found guilty in a civil one (ask O.J. -- I'm not defending him, just using him as an example).

Also, the criminal trial will be about whether the shooting was justified. A civil suit will be about what you could have done instead of shooting the person and why you should be punished (pay money) for using a gun rather than giving the perp a disaproving look or running away. If you hadn't used your gun, the poor man would never have been hurt and you're a bad person. If the jury believes that a reasonable person would not have used their gun in that situation (even if the use of deadly force was justified in a criminal setting), then they can award the plaintiff monetary compensation for his "suffering" -- the poor, misunderstood saint that he is.
 

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Thanks. I think I understand things better now, though that seems severely messed up.

If you were already dismissed as not guilty from a murder trial as being justified beyond a reasonable doubt to use deadly force against another human being, among other options such as running away, submitting to the perp's demands (if aplicable), non deadly force, hope and wait for LEO intervention, etc. why would anyone demand monetary compensation (or any other kind) for the choice you made?
I thought the whole point of defending yourself from a murder trial in a self defense case was to prove that given the circumstances of the incident, you had no other choice than to use lethal force against another human being.

This is sad to say, but in a FUBAR situation, let's say you acting to defend a 3rd party against some BG, with all the people and families and everything involved... It seems you could get drained out of cash in trials!!!
 

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Pierruiggi said:
This is sad to say, but in a FUBAR situation, let's say you acting to defend a 3rd party against some BG, with all the people and families and everything involved... It seems you could get drained out of cash in trials!!!
You now have a firm understanding of The Justice System in a Democratic Society - 101.
 

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Pierruiggi said:
Thanks. I think I understand things better now, though that seems severely messed up.

If you were already dismissed as not guilty from a murder trial as being justified beyond a reasonable doubt to use deadly force against another human being, among other options such as running away, submitting to the perp's demands (if aplicable), non deadly force, hope and wait for LEO intervention, etc. why would anyone demand monetary compensation (or any other kind) for the choice you made?
I thought the whole point of defending yourself from a murder trial in a self defense case was to prove that given the circumstances of the incident, you had no other choice than to use lethal force against another human being.

This is sad to say, but in a FUBAR situation, let's say you acting to defend a 3rd party against some BG, with all the people and families and everything involved... It seems you could get drained out of cash in trials!!!
Legally justified to use lethal force does not necessarily mean that you had no other choice -- it's just means that if you used lethal force in that kind of situation then you're not criminally liable. The sleazy attorney for the "victim" will come up with all sorts of theories as to what you could have done instead and with today's liberal mindset of guns are bad and bad guys are not responsible for their actions (it's society's fault), you could be found liable in a civil setting. It really does all come down to what the jury is willing to buy -- if society's values shift away from this "not taking any responsibility for anything" mindset these kind of cases will stop being brought. The reason these cases do come up is because jurys are awarding damages to the plaintiffs -- if the money dries up, the lawyers will go elsewhere.
 
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