Gun Modifications in Court
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Gun Modifications in Court

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Old 08-04-2013, 05:56 PM   #1
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Default Gun Modifications in Court

I want to help put this urban legend/myth to rest once and for all.


There is neither precedence nor case law showing that modifications to a gun used in self defense resulted in the conviction of a shooter who shot a suspect in self defense.

I see people type on these forums all the time saying, "Don't modify the trigger on your carry gun." I always ask "Why not?". The answer is always "It can be used against you in a court of law that you're a gunslinger or out for justice." That is the biggest load of hogwash this side of the Mississippi.

Changing the trigger pull on your carry gun is no different than changing the sights, or the backstrap, or the recoil spring assembly, or the magazine release, or the grip texture. Every single one of those items I listed is a modification.

Some of you worry about being considered a "gunslinger". I have news for you. Every time you put your gun on your hip or ankle you are a gunslinger. There has to be a difference between you and the evil that lurks out there. You have to give yourself an advantage. That advantage is a better trigger, better sights, training, and confidence.

Don't let anyone discourage you from getting a better trigger on your carry gun.

Get one!
Practice with it!
Use it!
Win the fight!
Owner/Armorer at Argyle Armoring, LLC - FFL 07
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Old 08-04-2013, 06:46 PM   #2
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All things will be considered in court, if the prosecution deems it to be advantageous to successful prosecution. From ammo. to caliber choice, to function of the firearm
and any past and present Martial training.


*Zimmerman trial single and double action trigger pull weight was discussed with an expert witness on the stand.

*Az. vs. Fish Caliber of handgun Mr. Fish used. brought in by prosecution (a 10mm) a very "Large Caliber" furthermore Fish a retired school teacher ie. "old man", had earned a "Black Belt" in his younger days, another point brought up by the prosecution. Fish was found guilty, sent to prison, ultimately gained release through re-trial. Died soon after release.

They're are other cases that reflect this "All things will be considered"

My point being is to be fully aware, to be smart, and to be fully committed to protecting yourself all the way to the finish of the criminal and civil trials.
'Steel cuts flesh / steel cuts bone / steel does not cut steel.'

Become steel or get cut.
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Old 08-04-2013, 08:49 PM   #3
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I have to agree with all the above responses. Everything is available for the prosecution to use for their case and against the shooter. It reminds of my first handgun class when I was still carrying my LCP. The instructor asked had anyone modified their gun. I raised my hand and said I had replaced the factory recoil spring with a heavier one to help reduce felt recoil. He asked "why?". My answer..."to get a faster second shot". He looked at me and laughed and said "that's all a DA needs to hear". good luck to you, but after that, I won't modify any gun that I'm going to carry.
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Old 08-04-2013, 08:51 PM   #4
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Having watched the Zimmerman trial i believe they will try to use anything they can. Trigger pull was discussed and whether it was "standard".

The fact they tested the trigger pull is an indication to me they would have tried to use it against him if they could.

Type of trigger ie SA versus DA and whether being DA was a passive safety feature was also discussed during the trial.

I don't remember whether the gun being loaded was discussed but I bet it was.

There may not be a precedent and in my opinion it should not make a difference but I would not want to give them anything to use against me and would leave the trigger in my carry gun stock.

Just pick a gun with a trigger you can shoot well out of the box and the issue is totally moot.
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Old 08-05-2013, 11:39 AM   #5
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Prosecutors can get politically motivated. Zimmerman trial was a prime example of that. At that point it flat doesn't matter if you did it all right, it suddenly now as of that moment was all wrong. They will go all the way down to what you had for breakfast last tuesday to what kind of tread your work boots have to that bubble gum stain on your driveway looking for that prosecution and some face time on TV. I don't expect them to exempt trigger mods, grips, sights, springs, lasers, lights, ammo types, mag capacity, color, finish, or any other thing you can do to or with a gun from the prosecutorial discussion.
Same rule for knives. If you carry a knife for self defense and it has the words "tactical", "defense" or any other buzz word or a spring assist, thumb stud, finger grooves, blood slot, liner lock, sharpened blade beyond the factory grind and you get pushed into using it.....
Expect a prosecutor to be very very excited about your case.
But you could carry a Schrade Old Timer lockback work knife and not hear a peep if you had to use it for the exact same self defense reasons.
Hey..... what's the red button do?
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Old 08-05-2013, 12:16 PM   #6
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Modifying a weapon isnt a problem all by itself but what you do to it could be if it creates a weapon that is not legal. I dont see changing triggers, sights or smoothing the action as a big deal but chopping the barrel too short or replacing parts that would make it an Auto is an obvious no-no.

I gotta add this, modifying a weapon really needs to be done with caution unless you absolutely know WTF your doing. Some things are just easy replacement but other "Easy Mods" still require an understanding of metallurgy and mechanics. If you wouldnt attempt to do a brake job on the car your kid rides in, you may not be the right person to start playing Gunsmith!
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Old 08-05-2013, 12:44 PM   #7
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Unfortunately, folks who appear as expert witnesses and write books disagree with the OP. The advice I have read from credible sources is to use the same ammo as your local law enforcement uses, and do not modify your carry firearm.

The issue may not convict you on its own, but, in a close case, it may be the straw that breaks the juries back. Don't give the prosecution anything to use against you.

Any small advantage gained by modifications are not worth the possible consequences.
"It is better to be too skeptical then too credulous"

Carl Sagan
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Old 08-05-2013, 01:03 PM   #8
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I've never understood why people get so concerned over this subject.

A prosecutor or MORE LIKELY civil attorney can ask hundreds of questions pertaining to your weapon.

Why was the trigger modified?
Why was recoil spring modified?
Why were you carrying a 17 shot semi auto?
Why not a 6 shot revolver?
Why was your weapon loaded with hollow points?
Why do these HP's have a Zombie on the box?(seems to be all the rage these days)
Why were you carrying a firearm to begin with? (remember most of the jury probably doesn't)

All of these questions can be asked. All of these questions can be answered completely and intelligently.
Just because an instructor mentioned it in a class or you read it on the Internet shouldn't make it the final word for you. It should be the beginning of your thought process.
Would this line of questioning have an impact on your case? Who knows.
Will you ever even be involved in a criminal or civil case? Who knows.
You are much more likely to be involved in a vehicle crash in the next 24 hrs. than use your firearm in self defense. Don't sweat the small stuff.

Last edited by FrontierTCB; 08-05-2013 at 01:27 PM.
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Old 08-05-2013, 01:15 PM   #9
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In a criminal case, a good shoot is a good shoot. The oops with a modified gun can really hurt you. In a civil case, all bets are off. EVERYTHING is fair game.
In life, strive to take the high road....It offers a better field of fire.
"Robo is right" Fuzzball
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Old 08-05-2013, 01:59 PM   #10
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I don't know if it's true or not but I've heard the same about lights and lasers
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