Legal Concerns Re: Modifications

This is a discussion on Legal Concerns Re: Modifications within the Concealed Carry Issues & Discussions forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; i dont think adding night sights or modded trigger would even be noticeable.. just say you bought it that way. BUT if you have a ...

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Thread: Legal Concerns Re: Modifications

  1. #31
    New Member Array Cpt America's Avatar
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    i dont think adding night sights or modded trigger would even be noticeable.. just say you bought it that way. BUT if you have a gold plated, engraved 1911 with Punisher logo pearl grips, lasers and extended threaded barrel for attaching a silencer.. Then they might say you are running around with a race gun just waiting for a chance to whip it out and start shooting.

    Are there any such laws that state that you cannot modify a CC handgun? If not then it should be a non issue in court. The performance and quality of the weapon should have no bearing on the situation in which it was used. You can hurt someone just as much with an old rusty 1911 as you could with a new hotroded Kimber with every possible performance upgrade.. know what i mean? :) You would think that as long as your lawyer isnt retarded, then it should be a problem. Carrying hollowpoints on the other hand, you are asking for trouble haha

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  3. #32
    Member Array user's Avatar
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    I teach a course on the legal aspects of the defensive use of firearms fairly regularly (and I'm scheduled to be the "guest speaker" at a banquet/seminar in Linden, VA. on Apr. 11, if anyone's interested in hearing me pontificate for three hours).

    Here's what I routinely tell people about that: If you're in court, the defendant in a criminal case because you shot someone, then the enormous gorilla in the room is going to be the fact that you shot someone. It's not going to be how you shot him, whether with a CO2 operated pellet gun or a .500 Desert Eagle that's been optimized six ways from Sunday for the purpose of killing people.

    The only question that's going to be relevant is whether you had a good reason to pull your gun out of the holster at all. If you did, then shooting is the proper thing to do, and your defense ought to be, "Absolutely, I shot him, I did mean to kill him, and I'd do it again! That BadGuy (or whatever you want to call him) was preparing to kill my child!/rape my wife/kidnap us and hold us for ransom/ etc."

    Here's the kicker: your use of defensive firearms must be strictly that: defensive. You're not serving search warrants on drug dealers at 2:00 a.m., right? So when you're presented with a factual situation which, in your opinion, creates in your mind the reasonable apprehension of an imminent threat of serious bodily injury or death to yourself or another innocent party, pull your gun out and shoot the BadGuy. (As Moses said, "so shall you rid yourselves of evil.")

    But do not do that merely to protect property, and not if he's not really a threat (e.g., he gave up and ran away when he saw the gun). But unless you're faced with that kind of threat, leave the gun in its holster, don't touch it. Otherwise, your best option is going to be a plea bargain for damage control.

    But it's not going to make a spit's worth of difference whether you've got a reduced power hammer spring in your gun when you've killed or wounded another person with that gun.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tangle View Post
    If this is the case that was shown on DateLine, and I believe it is, the interviews with the jurors after the trial indicated that two of the main things that they considered, implying more than anything else, was the 10mm caliber and the hollowpoint bullets. Should that have been the main issues? Of course not. My question is, why didn't the defense attorney address the caliber/bullet issue so it wouldn't be a deciding factor?...
    Exactly. Some of 'em are really good, some of 'em are really bad, and most of 'em are average. And there's no correlation between skill and honesty. Shop around for a good, honest lawyer well before you have a situation arise. When you find one, carry his card in your wallet.
    Last edited by JD; February 12th, 2009 at 07:25 AM. Reason: merged posts
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  4. #33
    Senior Member Array McPatrickClan's Avatar
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    Great link- thanks.

    Solid stuff, User- thanks.

    Quote Originally Posted by Cpt America View Post
    Are there any such laws that state that you cannot modify a CC handgun? If not then it should be a non issue in court. The performance and quality of the weapon should have no bearing on the situation in which it was used. You can hurt someone just as much with an old rusty 1911 as you could with a new hotroded Kimber with every possible performance upgrade.
    That's a great point- the state of Texas, for example, has few restrictions on what a carry gun must be. It would be tough for a lawyer to stretch the case to something beyond the laws on the books.
    Last edited by JD; February 12th, 2009 at 07:24 AM. Reason: merged posts

  5. #34
    Ex Member Array triggerman's Avatar
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    "Plus, how is a jury ever going to know? Are they going to take my firearm to the csi lab pull it down to springs and pins to determine if any aftermarket parts are in there? I seriously doubt it. "

    Some DA's will. I've had criminal lawyers advise me to keep it stock, but I ignored them. Hope it doesn't ever come back to haunt me.

  6. #35
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    Quote Originally Posted by nutz4utwo View Post
    Don't ask, don't tell. If you keep your mouth shut it is highly unlikely that anyone would know any sort of mods were done.

    Any gunsmith properly licensed by the ATF ought to do appropriate work. After all, they are qualified to perform repairs? People have things repaired all the time...why can't they do other work?
    Does ATF license gunsmiths??
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  7. #36
    VIP Member Array MitchellCT's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tangle View Post
    So do you have first hand information to refute what the jurors themselves said on public television?

    The two things the jurors mentioned as deciding factors were caliber and hollowpoints. As I recall, conflicting statements with the police never came up?

    So do you have first hand information about this case? Did you see the Dateline documentary? While we all question the 'documentaries', it is hard to refute what interviewed jurors said on national TV.

    So do you have some first hand information?
    I was making reference to the State making the choice to file charges in the first place.

    See: Trail of evidence - Trail of Evidence- msnbc.com


    The prosecution zeroed in on Fish’s story, starting to pick it apart, beginning with the timeline.

    Fish told the original lead detective on the case that he shot Grant Kuenzli about 6:30 p.m. A woman, camping with her friends about a half a mile away, told police on the scene that she heard the shots much earlier—somewhere around 5:30 p.m.

    And the man Fish flagged down on the highway said Fish waved him down at about 6:40 p.m..

    The prosecutor wanted the jury to ponder the question: If the shooting did happen at 5:30, why did it take more than an hour for Fish to get help? Had he intentionally lied about what time the shooting happened in order to help his claim of self-defense?

    Lessler: Mr. Fish knew darn well that he had shot an unarmed man and that he could not justify the shooting. He made a strategic decision to stay and spin the case his way, as opposed to leaving, probably getting away with it, but running the risk that if he ever were caught he couldn’t ever claim self defense.


    Prosecutor Lessler then pointed out Fish had different versions of exactly what Kuenzli had said to him on the trail. Did Fish make up a tale about threats from the victim to justify the shooting, then have trouble keeping his stories straight?

    This sergeant took Fish’s first statement at the scene:

    Sergeant who took Fish’s first statement: He reiterated to me he was in fear for his life because the person running at him was saying, ‘I’m going to kill you, you son of a b*tch!”

    But later that night, Fish said he couldn’t remember what Kuenzli had said to him. The prosecutor played a tape from an interview with Fish—

    “I’m trying to remember exactly what he said, you know, whether he said ‘I’m going to kill you’ or… he said something I can’t remember what it is.”

    And Fish later told a grand jury something else. He said Kuenzli may have said “I’m going to kill you, I’m going to hurt you, or I’m going to shoot you.”

    Lessler: He took time to think that through. The problem is that when you do that under that kind of stress, it’s extraordinarily difficult to keep your story straight.


    Jurors can do whatever they like to. Your case could revolve around X but if the jury thinks Y was significant, well. That's what they decide the case on, even if it wasn't the real issue.

    Also, as jury deliberations are secret, you really don't know what they are focusing on. Only after the trial is all done do you hear how the jury was so focused on the gun, or how they thought "He just...looked like he did it."

    I'm not trying to refute ANYTHING.

    I don't have to.

    The gun came into play at the trial.

    Had Mr. Fish not set himself up in the investigation stages the trial would not have occurred.

    If you think the 10mm was THE deciding factor in this case, you are deluding yourself.

  8. #37
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    Quote Originally Posted by SIGguy229 View Post
    Does ATF license gunsmiths??
    Yes. No license is required for "bolt-on" stuff, such as replaceable triggers, barrels, sights, springs and such, as well as purely cosmetic work. But work on the action or frame (modifying the sear, for example) requires a license, if you're doing it for other people as part of a business.

    You can do work yourself on your own gun that would require a license if you were doing it for someone else, but that could, in theory, create a wrinkle if you ever go to sell a gun you've tinkered with. I've never heard of such a case coming up, I'm just suggesting that there could be a possible problem.
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  9. #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by MitchellCT View Post
    I was making reference to the State making the choice to file charges in the first place.

    See: Trail of evidence - Trail of Evidence- msnbc.com


    The prosecution zeroed in on Fish’s story, starting to pick it apart, beginning with the timeline.

    Fish told the original lead detective on the case that he shot Grant Kuenzli about 6:30 p.m. A woman, camping with her friends about a half a mile away, told police on the scene that she heard the shots much earlier—somewhere around 5:30 p.m.

    And the man Fish flagged down on the highway said Fish waved him down at about 6:40 p.m..

    The prosecutor wanted the jury to ponder the question: If the shooting did happen at 5:30, why did it take more than an hour for Fish to get help? Had he intentionally lied about what time the shooting happened in order to help his claim of self-defense?

    Lessler: Mr. Fish knew darn well that he had shot an unarmed man and that he could not justify the shooting. He made a strategic decision to stay and spin the case his way, as opposed to leaving, probably getting away with it, but running the risk that if he ever were caught he couldn’t ever claim self defense.


    Prosecutor Lessler then pointed out Fish had different versions of exactly what Kuenzli had said to him on the trail. Did Fish make up a tale about threats from the victim to justify the shooting, then have trouble keeping his stories straight?

    This sergeant took Fish’s first statement at the scene:

    Sergeant who took Fish’s first statement: He reiterated to me he was in fear for his life because the person running at him was saying, ‘I’m going to kill you, you son of a b*tch!”

    But later that night, Fish said he couldn’t remember what Kuenzli had said to him. The prosecutor played a tape from an interview with Fish—

    “I’m trying to remember exactly what he said, you know, whether he said ‘I’m going to kill you’ or… he said something I can’t remember what it is.”

    And Fish later told a grand jury something else. He said Kuenzli may have said “I’m going to kill you, I’m going to hurt you, or I’m going to shoot you.”

    Lessler: He took time to think that through. The problem is that when you do that under that kind of stress, it’s extraordinarily difficult to keep your story straight.


    Jurors can do whatever they like to. Your case could revolve around X but if the jury thinks Y was significant, well. That's what they decide the case on, even if it wasn't the real issue.

    Also, as jury deliberations are secret, you really don't know what they are focusing on. Only after the trial is all done do you hear how the jury was so focused on the gun, or how they thought "He just...looked like he did it."

    I'm not trying to refute ANYTHING.

    I don't have to.

    The gun came into play at the trial.

    Had Mr. Fish not set himself up in the investigation stages the trial would not have occurred.

    If you think the 10mm was THE deciding factor in this case, you are deluding yourself.
    I'm just going by what the jurors themselves said on national tv. According to them and their own words, they found him guilty largely on the calibler and hollowpoints. In the interview, all that other stuff, while true, was not mentioned by the jurors.

    And, while likely no one or two things alone were the deciding factors, when the jurors were asked what were the deciding factors, they only mentioned caliber and hollowpoints.

    Sure, we all know that caliber and hollowpoints were not the only issues of the case they were dealing with. But, by their response, stating caliber and hollowpoints, it is clear that that was a significant issue with them.

    If you read the link provided in previous post, you will see that the prosecutor did indeed make a big deal out of the gun, caliber, and ammo during the trial. We all know why he did that. He did it to sway the minds of the jurors and it worked.

    So the issue remains, if the prosecuting attorney made such a big deal out of the caliber and hollowpoints, and he did, why is there a glaring absence of rebutle by the defense attorney on these issues? Where were the expert witnesses for the defense to refute these issues?

    Then we should consider why, if the caliber and hollowpoints were not an important, pivotal issue, why did the prosecutor even bring it up? Why did he give a very slanted, and inaccurate view about this?

    Anyway, for my part I've said all I have to say and read all the comments, and haven't seen anything to change my position so I'm done except for monitoring the persona of the thread.
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  10. #39
    VIP Member Array mcp1810's Avatar
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    I think the only way an action job would become an issue is if you made any kind of statement after the shooting that would indicate it was anything but an intentional act. Like User was saying if it is a good shoot it is a good shoot. But, if you say anything like " I didn't mean to." or "It just went off." you may be opening a new can of worms. IANAL but, a statement like that might get a fence sitting prosecutor to go with a lesser charge in a criminal case, but now what are we looking at on the civil side of things? How is that statement going to play in a wrongful death case? And with a statement like that do we think it is more likely that someone is going to check the function of the weapon compared to factory specs?

    The civil immunity here in Texas only goes with a legally justified shooting. So if I am good, I am real good. If I have a problem, it's a BIG problem!
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  11. #40
    VIP Member Array MitchellCT's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tangle View Post
    Anyway, for my part I've said all I have to say and read all the comments, and haven't seen anything to change my position so I'm done except for monitoring the persona of the thread.
    Good.

    If you aren't posting, you aren't spreading misinformation and opinions formed without actual information on the subject matter: interaction with law enforcement post-shooting.

    The 10mm JHP was an interesting wrinkle for this case, but just like you don't judge a cake by some flourishes on the icing, so to you should dig deeper into what lead the prosecutor to believe a crime had been committed.

    I'll give you a hint:

    Inconsistant statements made by the defendant when being questioned by law enforcement without an attorney present.

    I don't know what you do for a living, but I'll give you a clue about what I do:

    1 - I deal with criminals
    2 - I deal with cops
    3 - I deal with judges
    4 - I deal with prosecutors
    5 - I find and deal with witnesses, evidence and statements made by defendants, police and others
    6 - I am not in law enforcement
    7 - I am not a private investigator
    8 - I do not get paid by the state
    9 - To get my job I had to be sworn into the office by a superior court judge
    10 - I am able to show up at correctional facilities and talk to inmates without being on an approved visitor list


    When you figure it out, you will see how I have first hand information about how criminal cases are prosecuted and defended, and why I know things are not as cut and dry as you mistakenly believe them to be.

  12. #41
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    MitchellCT,

    I'm gonna tell you right now, drop the attitude you're showing to anyone that expresses a different opinion than yours. To tell you the truth we know nothing more about the validity of your posts than we do the Dateline report.

    If you have more to say on this matter, you can say it in a civil way or you won't be saying it at all on this forum.

    We can all state our views respectfully and understand that there are likely to be differences and accept that as reality.

    Now in my defense, not that I owe you any, I'm not spreading misinformation. I simply stated what I saw and heard from the jurors when questioned. This is not a court of law, it's a public forum and we can report what we see and hear without being disrespectfully, scrutinized and denigrated by you.

    Further, I've never once said things were cut and dried, and in keeping with your way of presenting things, if you could simply read and understand what you read I wouldn't have to point this out, but for your reference I said, and I quote,

    "Sure, we all know that caliber and hollowpoints were not the only issues of the case they were dealing with. But, by their response, stating caliber and hollowpoints, it is clear that that was a significant issue with them."

    I believe that to be accurate based on what the jurors said in the interview. Now if you want to disagree with that, I'm good by that, but you will do it respectfully. Do you understand?
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  13. #42
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    Quote Originally Posted by MitchellCT View Post
    When you figure it out, you will see how I have first hand information about how criminal cases are prosecuted and defended, and why I know things are not as cut and dry as you mistakenly believe them to be.
    Well, I guess since you are the definitive authority on this issue and we should defer to your opinion, then there is nothing else to discuss. This thread is now closed.
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