Gun Modifications in Court

Discussion in 'Legal and Activism' started by Argyle_Armoring, Aug 4, 2013.

  1. Argyle_Armoring

    Argyle_Armoring New Member

    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!
  2. Steel_Talon

    Steel_Talon New Member

    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.

  3. gr8oldguy

    gr8oldguy New Member

    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.
  4. davva360

    davva360 New Member

    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.
  5. RJMercer

    RJMercer New Member

    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.
  6. WebleyFosbery38

    WebleyFosbery38 New Member

    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!
  7. Chainfire

    Chainfire Well-Known Member Supporter

    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.
  8. FrontierTCB

    FrontierTCB Active Member

    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: Aug 5, 2013
  9. robocop10mm

    robocop10mm Lifetime Supporting Member Lifetime Supporter

    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.
  10. jimogden1984

    jimogden1984 New Member

    I don't know if it's true or not but I've heard the same about lights and lasers
  11. 7point62

    7point62 Lifetime Supporting Member Lifetime Supporter

    You could kill an attacker with a frying pan and a prosecutor would find a way to accuse you of using excessive force. You're f*cked if you do and you're f*cked if you don't, so you might as well pack what you want and learn what constitutes a threat...because ultimately, it's going to boil down to circumstances.
  12. Argyle_Armoring

    Argyle_Armoring New Member

    The improbable is strong with this thread.
  13. Rick1967

    Rick1967 Well-Known Member

    I have done a trigger job on my Sigma. I carry it once in a while. I carry some factory loads in my guns. I carry hand loads in others. All of my hand loads are to published standards. I do not hot load. I do not plan on shooting anyone. But if I am forced to, I am sure the rest of my life will be changed no matter what type of gun or ammo I was carrying.

    I would be more concerned about the prosecution asking why I train in IDPA. I am sure they would ask why we use targets that are shaped like people. I am also sure they would ask about my military training as well. I am sure that the fact that the military actually trained us to kill, would not go well in a self defense trial. But if I am forced to defend myself, that training will be very valuable indeed.
  14. Yunus

    Yunus New Member

    The difference is that the trigger is involved with the firing of the gun.

    The jury you would potentially be facing are not armorers they are every day people who likely have little to no experience with a gun.
  15. nitestalker

    nitestalker New Member

    Many years ago my friend was in a court case involving a handgun. The prosecution introduced his "Guns & Ammo" magazine subscription. The prosecution used the handgun articles very effectively to convict him. Courts and lawyers are not "Predictable".;)
  16. locutus

    locutus Well-Known Member Supporter

    There was a civil suit quite a few years ago in this part of the country where "cocked and" locked was an issue.

    This was a civil case, not criminal, and the shooting was accidental, not intentional.

    The defense leaned heavily on Jeff Cooper's training.

    The plaintiff's attorney argued that the 1911 was a military weapon, designed specifically for military use, and had been standard issue for 70 years.

    He kept hammering on the fact that the military did not allow "their" weapon to be carried with a round chambered. He called a retired military policeman to testify to how unsafe this procedure was.

    The plaintiff won. I don't know how much "weight' this carried with the jury, or whether it was a deciding factor in the verdict. But I haven't carried a 1911 since. If for some reason I ever felt the desire to carry a .45 again, it would be my SIG P220.

    Don't give them anything to use against you if you can help it.
  17. rifleman1

    rifleman1 New Member

    i seen a case of a docter who was convicted in a self defense case because of the ammo he had in his gun,i dont have all the details it was years ago but since then i only carry factory loads.its just my choice.
  18. locutus

    locutus Well-Known Member Supporter

    I've had at least a dozen attorneys tell me not only to carry factory ammo, but to try to carry whatever the local police carry.`

    The "average juror" knows little or nothing about guns or ammo. So if you carry the same ammo as the police, Mr. average juror will believe that you followed the lead of the "experts" so you did the right thing.
  19. JimRau

    JimRau Well-Known Member Supporter

    Correct you are. We MUST deal in probabilities, not possibilities. It has been my observation after 30+ years of dealing with the legal system, that if your 'modifications' do not reduce the 'safety' of the weapon (lighting the trigger pull is an example which could be used against you) they are not an issue. But because of recent events in FL it is apparent that 'doing the right thing and saying the right thing' will not ALWAYS work out right. So be careful if you live a justification which has those not friendly to the 'armed victim' in positions of authority!!!:(
  20. JimRau

    JimRau Well-Known Member Supporter

    Correct you are.:)
    There is no reason to carry anything but 'factory' ammo now as the current SD ammo available is better than most of us could load anyway. It just 'complicates' things if you load your own.
    Last edited: Aug 6, 2013