prosecution for legal modifications?

This is a discussion on prosecution for legal modifications? within the Concealed Carry Issues & Discussions forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; Originally Posted by pirate ...As far as the issue of legal modifications to a handgun somehow making prosecution more likely in the event of a ...

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Thread: prosecution for legal modifications?

  1. #1
    VIP Member Array Thanis's Avatar
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    prosecution for legal modifications?

    Quote Originally Posted by pirate View Post
    ...As far as the issue of legal modifications to a handgun somehow making prosecution more likely in the event of a legal shooting, well that is just another intertnet myth........lets see the news articles about DA's prosecuting gun owners for using legally modified handguns when the use of the gun was justified otherwise...
    Quote Originally Posted by pirate View Post
    I have and I am well aware of Mr. Ayoob's thoughts and writings on this issue but it does not change the fact there are just no real documented cases of legal modifications or in this case just parts ungrades to a handgun changing the outcome of a trial for the negative of the shooter if the shooting was deamed legally defendable...
    In a different thread, pirate made this point.

    I know there was a case where ammo (believe use of 10mm) came into question. I am sure I can track down examples where self-loaded cartridge used in SD resulted in legal troubles (that is a form of legal modifications). In addition, there is that case were a guy used some lighter strength ammo he had loaded for his wife, somehow that messed with the ballistics and made it appear that he was a greater distance. Lastly, a persons overall gun collection or group associations has been brought up (making the gun owner appear to be someone looking for a fight).

    Now lastly, I believe there was someone with a a skull, or some remark, engraved on a handgun. This one I can't find, and may just be internet lies.

    Now back to what pirate stated. Arguments of legal modified ammo is a simple step to legal modified firearm aside.

    Are there any examples of a legaly modified firearm resulting in prosecution?

    Are there any examples of a legaly modified handgun resulting in prosecution?
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  3. #2
    Senior Member Array EvilMonk's Avatar
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    Good question.

    The idea has certainly been raised several times, but with (to my knowledge) no strong supporting evidence.

    Demonstration of our natural paranoia, or real threat?
    That which does not kill us leaves us broken and bleeding...

    Don’t mess with the guy who can barely stand up. His remaining options for self-defense don't include your survival.

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    VIP Member Array ExactlyMyPoint's Avatar
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    I was at a gun show recently. I was speaking with a Glock armorer and a customer. The customer was considering putting in the lighter trigger and we got into a discussion about modified guns and how the prosecutor would portray that in the courtroom. The armorer said basically you should be more concerned about a righteous shoot than whether you shoot someone with a modified gun. I am tending to concur. Although it will be interesting to follow this thread to see if anyone pulls up any evidence of a firearm modification and persecution by the prosecution.
    Preparing for the Zombie Apocalypse or Rapture....whichever comes first.

  5. #4
    Senior Member Array rachilders's Avatar
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    I agree that ensuring the justification for a shooting is much more important than whether you've made any mods to your gun, unless it's something illegal in your state or with the feds.
    Also, I'm a great fan of Massad Ayoob and have read about everything he's written in the past 20 years but almost all of the examples he sites in his articles about shooters who encounter legal troubles over mods to guns/ammo during self-defense situations seem to be from the 70's & 80's. For us folks old enough to have owned guns during those decades, it was a far different (and not near as friendly) world than we have now when it comes to carrying and using a firearm for protection. The courts and LEO's generally weren't too understanding when it came to a "civilian" or someone who's job didn't require it carrying a concealed handgun. Unlike now right to carry and states issuing CC permits to the general public could be counted on your fingers with some left over.

    While it may not seem like it sometimes - especially to shooters under 40 who weren't old enough to carry back then - things now are INFINITELY better by magnitudes for those who want to own and carry a weapon for personal defense than it was 20-30 years ago or even 10 years ago for that matter.
    "... Americans... we want a safe home, to keep the money we make and shoot bad guys." -- Denny Crane

  6. #5
    Member Array alexcantslee's Avatar
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    My curiosity is also ebbed on this one, my Christmas present to myself this year is going to be a stainless 1911 and I really wanted to neat grips for it in ivory (Imitation I'm sure). Not that anyone will see it much but me but Ive been a good boy and I want a real "nice" gun. Ive seen a bunch of grips that where pre-made that had lots of stuff, crosses, insignias, etc..One set in particular that I actually sort of liked was a grim reaper on each side, but I dismissed it totally as this gun will be my carry piece. I figured if I ever in a position with no other choice but to use it some grips like that might make me look bad if I where to get called into court.

    Honestly my gut reaction says it wouldn't be a good idea but am I being paranoid or is this potentially an issue.

    Has this been an issue before with a gun thats modified aesthetically, not a mechanical mod per say?

    Alex!

  7. #6
    Member Array ECHOONE's Avatar
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    Not that it should but we all know that some stupid things can sway a jury, it all depends on who and what makes up your jury pool that day!

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    Ex Member Array scotthsi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Thanis View Post

    I know there was a case where ammo (believe use of 10mm) came into question.
    That was the Harold Fish case in Arizona. He shot some deranged guy with a Kimber in 10mm and they went after him as having a gun "more powerful" than what the police used. He was just recently acquitted, but it was a long battle.

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    Senior Member Array Jmac00's Avatar
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    I think it depends on the Prosecutor and how weak/strong their case is and how zealous they want to be.

    If their case is weak, they will bring every little detail they can think of into the case to make you look like a deranged killer.

    They will bring up any of the following:

    Type of weapon
    Caliber(if your just defending yourself, why did you use a 45, why not a 380)
    Projectile (hollow points, Armour piercing, you obviously ment to kill someone with these projectiles )
    Grips (rubber slip on, roughed up, non-slip)
    Trigger (the factory weapon came with a 11lb pull, you changed to 3 lb, to make it easier to kill some one)
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    Member Array Hubs's Avatar
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    It is for this precise reason that I will not carry a gun that has been modified after purchase for CCW. I came to the conclusion that it would be "safer" to carry a finely tuned gun(my Kimber) from the FACTORY for CCW. That way, an aggressive DA and a sympathetic jury would have less legs to stand on in a SD trial. This may be an over-reaction but it IS how I feel.

    By the way, I have read most of Massad Ayoob's books. His principles stand the test of time despite being written some time ago.
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  11. #10
    VIP Member Array MitchellCT's Avatar
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    What you need to understand is that issues like this don't come up in a void.

    The weapon or the ammo is a tertiary concern, if that. It only comes up when things go very wrong in the "before" and "after" phases of a confrontation.

    Before:
    You didn't deescalate or didn't try very hard.
    You didn't leave when you had an opportunity.
    You got out of your car when you didn't have to.
    You had a history with the deceased, and it's not a good one.

    After:
    You tried to make a canned speech to the police, but they got you talking.
    You consented to a search in writing (OH, you didn't know they shove that in with the hospital admission papers...yeah. Sorry...)
    A witness will tell them what he saw...and will be 100% honest...but wrong.
    You spoke openly & honestly with the police and made contradictory statements over the course of a 6 hour interrogation...

    At that point, with so many screwups, yeah, the weapon, ammo and oddities come into play - but even then, it's too late because it's no longer a primary factor.

    Most of the cases you mentioned could have been solved by securing weapons not in use, shutting up and lawyering up.

    Train more.
    Worry about weapon mods less.

  12. #11
    Member Array natticarry's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hubs View Post
    It is for this precise reason that I will not carry a gun that has been modified after purchase for CCW. I came to the conclusion that it would be "safer" to carry a finely tuned gun(my Kimber) from the FACTORY for CCW. That way, an aggressive DA and a sympathetic jury would have less legs to stand on in a SD trial. This may be an over-reaction but it IS how I feel.

    By the way, I have read most of Massad Ayoob's books. His principles stand the test of time despite being written some time ago.
    If they are already getting into the ridiculousness of criticizing caliber or ammo type its not much of a stretch to criticize you for buying a Kimber. Why didn't you buy a vanilla colt? They don't have all those mods on them from the factory that help you kill people. When it comes to this scenario, I am not sure there is anything you can do to prevent the prosecutor from villianizing you if that his agenda. If you used a .22 they would claim you should have used a pellet gun.

  13. #12
    Senior Member Array Divebum47's Avatar
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    Spot on

    Quote Originally Posted by MitchellCT View Post
    What you need to understand is that issues like this don't come up in a void.

    The weapon or the ammo is a tertiary concern, if that. It only comes up when things go very wrong in the "before" and "after" phases of a confrontation.

    Before:
    You didn't deescalate or didn't try very hard.
    You didn't leave when you had an opportunity.
    You got out of your car when you didn't have to.
    You had a history with the deceased, and it's not a good one.

    After:
    You tried to make a canned speech to the police, but they got you talking.
    You consented to a search in writing (OH, you didn't know they shove that in with the hospital admission papers...yeah. Sorry...)
    A witness will tell them what he saw...and will be 100% honest...but wrong.
    You spoke openly & honestly with the police and made contradictory statements over the course of a 6 hour interrogation...

    At that point, with so many screwups, yeah, the weapon, ammo and oddities come into play - but even then, it's too late because it's no longer a primary factor.

    Most of the cases you mentioned could have been solved by securing weapons not in use, shutting up and lawyering up.

    Train more.
    Worry about weapon mods less.
    One thing I would add, however, is that all of us should be very, very general in expressing our opinions and "what I would do" statements. They may come back some day to bite us in the butt. Unfortunately, an SD shoot is one place where what you say is often more critical than what you do.
    "Never underestimate the power of stupid people in large groups"

  14. #13
    VIP Member Array gottabkiddin's Avatar
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    These kinda questions have been around forever. I can remember from years ago, an article in a popular magazine that stated; For home defense a "DA was better than a SA" from a legal standpoint. The reasoning behind it was, that a SA requires you to cock the hammer back which in itself shows intent by you to fire the weapon.

    My thoughts are the same today as they were back then. As long as what I'm carrying is legal and I'm in the right. A good shoot is a good shoot, and no DA can change the facts surrounding the truth of the matter. My argument would be a simple one. I wanted my carry gun and home defense guns set up with the best and most accurate technology possible to aid in my attempt to save my family if needed. Would you prefer that I missed my target?

    GBK
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  15. #14
    Distinguished Member Array razor02097's Avatar
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    In my CCW class they told us what the best thing to say to the first responding officer...

    "Officer my name is _______. I was in fear for my life, I have nothing more to say"

    This keeps you from saying something in the adrenaline buzzed heat of the moment that they could use against you in the court room.

    Comply with every officer command, you will be likely disarmed and detained till they sort things out; just clam up until you speak with your lawyer.; as you have done nothing wrong and the lawyer can express that FAR better then you can to a burocratic DA

    I know it sounds strange but I practice that line just in case I would ever need it. Justice is suppose to be blind but it doesn't change the fact that it is much easier to charge an average law abiding joe with something cause they don't know how to keep their mouth shut.

    Criminals know. The first thing the ones that know the systems say is "I want a lawyer"
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    Member Array Jim Macklin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by scotthsi View Post
    That was the Harold Fish case in Arizona. He shot some deranged guy with a Kimber in 10mm and they went after him as having a gun "more powerful" than what the police used. He was just recently acquitted, but it was a long battle.
    There was a period when the FBI issued the 10mm, any lawyer should have been able to defend a charge based on that issue.

    Being prosecuted for modifications, "legal modifications" really would be most likely for a modified trigger or safety that was done improperly and that caused an accidental shooting when the safety was released or a trigger that was unsafe.

    Ayoob has said it, correctly, you can't defend an accidental shooting. There is no legal justification for an accident.
    "Your honor, when the robber went for his gun I shot him. Turned out it was a cigarette lighter in the shape of a gun! It was a tragic error on the part of the robber."

    "My client was holding the burglar at gunpoint and had called the police. But his gun went off accidentally, killing the robber."
    The defendant had modified his gun to make a trigger that was "unsafe at any speed" for any purpose, that negligence was the cause of the death which merits conviction on the manslaughter charge.

    So don't make an unsafe gun.

    But avoid those engraved grips with "cute" slogans and quotes like...
    Kill 'em all, let God sort it out.

    Any lawyer will dress a defendant in clothes that don't make a jury want to convict the scumbag. You get to take a bath, shave and clean up your language in court. Your gun [and what you write on the Internet]can't be changed after the fact. Keep the hill as low as possible for your lawyer.
    The People Think the Constitution Protects Their Rights;
    Government See IT as an Obstacle to be Over-come.

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