Modified Weapons and Civil or Criminal Defense

This is a discussion on Modified Weapons and Civil or Criminal Defense within the Defensive Carry Guns forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; Originally Posted by msgt/ret That being said the listed modifications should have no bearing on the case as they in no way affected the safety ...

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Thread: Modified Weapons and Civil or Criminal Defense

  1. #16
    Member Array bdcheung's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by msgt/ret View Post
    That being said the listed modifications should have no bearing on the case as they in no way affected the safety or operation of the weapon.
    Even the removal of the magazine safety? Not trying to split hairs; I'm asking because I'm honestly curious.

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  3. #17
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    A lot depends on state law and what you modified. Swapping factory sights for night sights - I don't see a problem there. Honing a 6# trigger to 2#, well, I would not want to have to defend that. Too many variables to opine with any certainty. If you have a specific fact pattern you are concerned about in your state, consult your lawyer.
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  4. #18
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    The only mods I have done is the addition of night sights. No mods at all do the trigger pull or other internals. When choosing a carry firearm I look at how the firearms operates, reliability, how easy to use under stress, opposite hand, one hand etc. this way the firearm remains stock and I can avoid this predicament all together.
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  5. #19
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    Let's face it; if you are in an area with an anti-prosecutor he might try and make an issue over the color of the shoes you were wearing and the family will try to paint you as a blood thirsty killer because you are a member here or anything else they can get dug up. Beyond doing something that makes the firearm unsafe even to ardent self defence supporters it is really just a turn of fate.

  6. #20
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    "Honing a 6# trigger to 2#, well, I would not want to have to defend that."

    The only case in which this should have any bearing is a negligent discharge, where a DA could (or would) argue that you modified the factory trigger and made it unsafe, thus the trial at hand. But in a SD case, where you intended to pull the trigger regardless of weight, to save yourself (or someone else)--no way should that be a factor
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  7. #21
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    I'm wondering what kind of civil court litigant is going to know what modifications have been made to your pistol and how they would argue that you're evil because of them. Unless of course it's something really drastic. IMO it's much more likely to be the Punisher grips that get you in trouble.
    It is surely true that you can lead a horse to water but you can't make them drink. Nor can you make them grateful for your efforts.

  8. #22
    Member Array bdcheung's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by atctimmy View Post
    I'm wondering what kind of civil court litigant is going to know what modifications have been made to your pistol
    Any attorney worth his weight would, IMO, ask about the gun during deposition.


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  9. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by atctimmy View Post
    I'm wondering what kind of civil court litigant is going to know what modifications have been made to your pistol and how they would argue that you're evil because of them. Unless of course it's something really drastic. IMO it's much more likely to be the Punisher grips that get you in trouble.
    If their is a use of a firearm resulting in a lawsuit, certain things have happened:

    1) Police involvement and an investigation determining, at least initially, not everthing went 100% kosher. Their will be an investigation, and the weapon will go in for testing of some kind, and it is likely that someone may examine it and say "Humm...that's odd..." at which point, more investigation will likely determine what, if any mods, were done.

    2) If their is a lawsuit resulting from a shooting, their will be allegations of negligence. SD is a perfect defense to intentionally shooting someone, and does not generate access to that lovely pile of cash your insurance company has...and in a negligence action, the insurance company wants to have access to the weapon of the guy they are protecting so they can prove that the weapon wasn't altered.

    Oh, if it was?

    If the alterations were beyond factory spec, expect that you will not be covered, because insurance covers negligence, not reckless conduct or wanton & willfull conduct.

    3) Depositions and discovery conducted by the opposing party. They will subpoena the weapon for testing and have their own expert look at it to determine if it has been altered to an unsafe state.

    Well.

    That's my take on it.
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  10. #24
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    OK I get the negligence side of the argument.

    1) Police involvement and an investigation determining, at least initially, not everthing went 100% kosher. Their will be an investigation, and the weapon will go in for testing of some kind, and it is likely that someone may examine it and say "Humm...that's odd..." at which point, more investigation will likely determine what, if any mods, were done.
    ^^^ OK, I understand this too.

    I guess I'm just wondering how a 3.5 pound Glock trigger or the lack of a magazine safety could be argued against you after a self defense shooting. Perhaps I'm a bit naive here but I just can't come up with an argument that holds water. MitchellCT can you explain it a little more please?
    It is surely true that you can lead a horse to water but you can't make them drink. Nor can you make them grateful for your efforts.

  11. #25
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    First, you can be sued by anyone for anything. And, you will have to defend yourself, Whether you were right or wrong, will not make a big difference at that point.
    You meant to shoot;it was not an accident.
    Your gun modifications, e.g. trigger job, tungsten recoil guide, mag release, magwell, etc. were designed to make your gun more reliable, more accurate and safer in trained hands (let's also assume that you can prove you trained). Since it did NOT fire by accident and did hit the target you aimed at, the modifications worked for their intended purpose. Imagine instead that you were using a gun that was not accurate, didn't feed well, etc. Then, you might have a problem.
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    Since the original question was in reference to you being sued in a civil court, by the person shot, or his family, versus a criminal trial, your talking to different sets of rules. In theory, in a criminal trial, the prosecution must prove to the jury you acted in a criminal/negligent manner. In a civil trial, all the plantiffs lawyer has to do is make the jury feel sorry for his client. Logic and facts do not come into play.
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  13. #27
    Member Array bdcheung's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by archer51 View Post
    In a civil trial, all the plantiffs lawyer has to do is make the jury feel sorry for his client. Logic and facts do not come into play.


    one of the best responses so far!

  14. #28
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    Luckily in my state (MO) we are protected from a civil lawsuit if it was a "clean" shoot...

  15. #29
    VIP Member Array MitchellCT's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by atctimmy View Post
    OK I get the negligence side of the argument.


    I guess I'm just wondering how a 3.5 pound Glock trigger or the lack of a magazine safety could be argued against you after a self defense shooting.
    Self defense is a defense against intentional acts in a criminal and civil setting.

    The way to get around self defense is to assert the actions at issue were not intentional, but negligent.

    Their has to be a context for this, but in any case which is not perfect (many are not...), a modified weapon which is out of spec is a hook to use.

    In that instance, the prosecutor may charge manslaughter instead of murder, because putting on a case in which he has to show you discharged your weapon when you didn't mean to due to your weapon having X mod done to it is easier than putting on a murder case in which you would have to be show to have deliberately fired your weapon with the intent to kill someone you didn't have to or want to.

    Civily, it's simple - insurance companies pay for negligence, not intentional acts.

    As a plaintiff's attorney, I want you to make a mistake that involves someone getting a bullet. Why?

    Not because I'm a bad person (I am...) but because your home owners policy covers on "OOPS!! OH SH...!!!", not a "DIE YOU DAM CRIMINAL!!"

    Further, it's an easier case to make out, especially when you have removed safety devices or taken a firearm out of spec.

    Can it be defended against - Yes.

    Do you want to do it - No.

    Instead of playing with safeties or modifying guns, get a gun without the features you don't want and be done with it.

    Don't like a mag safety? Don't buy it with one and take it out.

    Want a better trigger? Buy a gun with a better trigger & learn to shoot properly.

    Stop playing so close to the edge and you won't get cut.

    Sorry if that offends people's sense of their second amendment rights and all that, but the real world (as much as the courts are the real world) really doesn't care very much what people think are their rights.

    Civil & criminal liability are mature concepts and mere assertions that something shouldn't be that way don't change things.

    You don't want to play the lawsuit slot machine? Stop putting in coins and pulling the lever.

    Their are plenty of weapons and configurations straight from the factory that are shootable and user friendly.

    I like a Glock 19 with a 3.5#/NY-1 trigger set up. That's a well regarded set up with a firmer break and reset with the same/slightly heavier weight than stock. It's a modification I'm not worried about...but then again I wouldn't be worried about striker fired, cocked and locked, DAO, DAK, LEM or DA/SA from a good company.

    Find one, and be done with the issue.

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  16. #30
    VIP Member Array MitchellCT's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by archer51 View Post
    Since the original question was in reference to you being sued in a civil court, by the person shot, or his family, versus a criminal trial, your talking to different sets of rules. In theory, in a criminal trial, the prosecution must prove to the jury you acted in a criminal/negligent manner. In a civil trial, all the plantiffs lawyer has to do is make the jury feel sorry for his client. Logic and facts do not come into play.
    Yeah...

    You've done how many criminal cases?

    How many civil cases?

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