Hi, folks. One of the participants in this thread requested that I drop by.
One critical point absent from this discussion thus far is the relatively high likelihood of a false allegation of hair trigger negligent discharge brought by unscrupulous prosecutors or plaintiffs’ counsel.
These things are more common than most people realize. In an unmeritorious prosecution, the strategy is to charge Manslaughter on a negligent discharge theory instead of Murder with an intentional shooting theory, because a prosecutor out to win political points knows the former is a slam-dunk compared to the latter. To win a Murder conviction, the prosecutor has to convince the jury that a decent citizen just like them turned into a cold-blooded executioner. That’s a tough sell. For a Manslaughter conviction, all he has to do is convince them that, just like any other human being, you the defendant were reckless and negligent in just one instance.
In a civil lawsuit, the plaintiff’s counsel well knows that if he portrays you as deliberately and cold-bloodedly shooting his poor, misguided burglar client, he’ll miss the deep pockets he’s after. That’s because any homeowner’s liability insurance policy expressly excludes a willful tort, i.e., a deliberate harmful act committed by the policyholder. It will only pay off for negligence. Thus, the unmeritorious argument that you accidentally shot the man you were holding at gunpoint, due to recklessly pointing a hair trigger gun at him.
The very light trigger, well known in the world of marksmanship to be prone to premature discharge, facilitates either false allegation and plays into the hands of those who want to ruin you.
Actual “hair trigger AD” cases I’ve been involved with include Crown v. Gossett (cocked S&W Model 10, defendant convicted of Manslaughter in one trial and acquitted in the next); NY v Magliato (cocked Colt Detective Special, defendant convicted of Depraved Murder, reduced to Manslaughter upon appeal, served several years hard time); and MI v. Chuck Chase (cocked S&W Model 15, defendant acquitted of Manslaughter at trial). Civil cases of this nature can be ruinous. I was involved in one in Pennsylvania (cannot give name at this time) in which defendant AD’d a High Standard .22 target pistol, killing his antagonist. He barely escaped indictment for Manslaughter, but lost his business and most of his savings when he chose to settle the resultant lawsuit.
In the above cases, the High Standard had a trigger pull of approximately 2.5 pounds. I do not have time to dig the other cases out of the files, but for frame of reference, a random K-frame S&W from my gun safe averaged 3 lb.13 oz. in single action, and a random D-frame Colt averaged 3 lb. 10 oz., both on a Lyman digital trigger pull gauge.
False allegations of hair trigger AD that I’ve been involved in include GA v. Crumbley (S&W Model 586), KY v. Rucker (SIG P226), and FL v. Alvarez (S&W Model 64). Crumbley was no-billed by the grand jury, and Rucker and Alvarez were both acquitted at trial, charged with Manslaughter.
For those who think only convictions matter, consider that Luis Alvarez spent 15 months under the Sword of Damocles awaiting trial, and another two months in trial. His defense cost a deep six figures. Anyone who suggests “so what, he was acquitted” should keep that in mind.
The poster who was unable to find anything on FL v. Luis Alvarez can find a detailed account of the trial written by his attorney Roy Black in the autobiographical book “Black’s Law,” available at most libraries or at Barnes & Noble or Borders in the legal section, or on Amazon.
Personal experience in the above cases, plus the vast collective and institutional experience of law enforcement in prohibiting “hair triggers” on service and off duty weapons, is what convinced me to recommend against light triggers on defense guns.
I hope this has been of some use.