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Old 05-19-2011, 12:00   #1
datnvan
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trigger mods and the legality of it all

Moderator Note: I merged 5 different threads on the "3.5 lb/lighter trigger pulls" topic into this single source for those discussions and re-stickied the thread.

Please, keep your comments civil and on topic.

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****************************************************************



serious question for CHL holders:

i've had my chl for almost 4 years now. carried several different guns on different occasions but pretty much carried 100% of the time. all of my handguns have always been unmodified internally. neither the fire control group nor the triggers were ever messed with. and the reason i didnt mod them was to avoid any extra legal ramifications on top of trying to convince a grand jury my shooting a bad guy was justified.

does my concern have any validity? i'm in TX by the way.

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Old 05-19-2011, 12:21   #2
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Originally Posted by datnvan View Post
serious question for CHL holders:

i've had my chl for almost 4 years now. carried several different guns on different occasions but pretty much carried 100% of the time. all of my handguns have always been unmodified internally. neither the fire control group nor the triggers were ever messed with. and the reason i didnt mod them was to avoid any extra legal ramifications on top of trying to convince a grand jury my shooting a bad guy was justified.

does my concern have any validity? i'm in TX by the way.
Not entirely sure of Texas self defense laws, but if the DA/police deem my shoot is a good one, I can not be held criminally or civilly liable in my state no matter what equipment or ammunition I use...
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Old 05-20-2011, 11:37   #3
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Originally Posted by QuicksilverJPR View Post
Not entirely sure of Texas self defense laws, but if the DA/police deem my shoot is a good one, I can not be held criminally or civilly liable in my state no matter what equipment or ammunition I use...
That is not accurate entirely accurate for Texas.

Here, if you met the justification in chapter 9 of the penal code then you are justified. Even if you use a bazooka and rail gun. (that does not account for the SEPERATE charge you could get for the possession of the bazooka)

Here, civil courts decide on their own regarding your justification. I don't know of a case where a modified trigger, in a justified self defense shooting, caused any problems. IMO, it really does not matter.
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Old 05-20-2011, 13:17   #4
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That is not accurate entirely accurate for Texas.

Here, if you met the justification in chapter 9 of the penal code then you are justified. Even if you use a bazooka and rail gun. (that does not account for the SEPERATE charge you could get for the possession of the bazooka)

Here, civil courts decide on their own regarding your justification. I don't know of a case where a modified trigger, in a justified self defense shooting, caused any problems. IMO, it really does not matter.
You assume a justified shooting. However, CCWers may occasionally negligently fire off a round in the Wal Mart or on the street, or maybe miss the bad guy and hit somebody else, or foolishly mess up a justified self-defense shooting by saying something dumb like "I didn't mean to shoot, I was only holding him at gunpoint" for an instantly unjustified shooting.

Those are the times when a modified gun, especially one with a lighter trigger, is a big, big problem.
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Old 05-21-2011, 14:44   #5
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You assume a justified shooting. However, CCWers may occasionally negligently fire off a round in the Wal Mart or on the street, or maybe miss the bad guy and hit somebody else, or foolishly mess up a justified self-defense shooting by saying something dumb like "I didn't mean to shoot, I was only holding him at gunpoint" for an instantly unjustified shooting.

Those are the times when a modified gun, especially one with a lighter trigger, is a big, big problem.
Not necessarily disagreeing, but how do you see missing the bad guy being any different with a modified trigger rather than a standard one? Or how does saying you didn't mean to shoot change your justification? What "big big problems" could that cause?

Again, if you are justified you are justified, regardless of trigger. If you are NOT justified then you are not. Having a super light trigger might cause you to fire when you shouldn't have, but that is no different than having your finger on the trigger when you should not and firing when you should not because of it.

If anyone has any examples of someone convicted because of a modified trigger. . .
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Old 08-29-2012, 19:06   #6
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I just bought a Glock 23 Gen 3 with the absolute sweetest and lightest trigger I have ever felt on ANY Glock. The trigger was probably 90% of the reason why I bought it. It's a used gun. Well used in fact.

So let's say for the sake of this thread that lord forbid I am forced into shooting someone to defend myself or others with said Glock 23. Am I to then be prosecuted over the pull weight and reset of my trigger? I would not think so. At least not in Florida. However, I purchased this gun USED. It came this way, and no one can say or every really prove at what point in the guns lifespan who did what to it.

I think the whole premise is ridiculous personally. I am not a lawyer or an expert, but I am giving my opinion on the subject at hand.

One would think that a "good shoot" was a "good shoot" regardless of what was used in the shooting. What if I just got back from Elk hunting and I all had was my .300 Winchester Magnum rifle at hand. Will I be prosecuted for "overkill" and using a big game rifle on a human being? Where does it end? At what point do we not defend ourselves at all?

Most people wouldn't know a Glock from a 1911 from a Colt Python. How then exactly would they even ascertain such a thing as the trigger had been changed etc? I am curious about that much.
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Old 05-25-2014, 06:47   #7
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Originally Posted by QuicksilverJPR View Post
Not entirely sure of Texas self defense laws, but if the DA/police deem my shoot is a good one, I can not be held criminally or civilly liable in my state no matter what equipment or ammunition I use...
Take that Ayoob....
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Old 05-19-2011, 15:37   #8
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Originally Posted by datnvan View Post
serious question for CHL holders:

i've had my chl for almost 4 years now. carried several different guns on different occasions but pretty much carried 100% of the time. all of my handguns have always been unmodified internally. neither the fire control group nor the triggers were ever messed with. and the reason i didnt mod them was to avoid any extra legal ramifications on top of trying to convince a grand jury my shooting a bad guy was justified.

does my concern have any validity? i'm in TX by the way.
The "sticky" thread also has references to at least two other threads which also provide good information. Reading the three threads will give you almost every possible viewpoint on both sides of the argument.

Something that is often overlooked, is how will a firearm modified outside of manufacturer recommendations and LEA standard practice be presented by a prosecuting attorney, and how will it be viewed by a jury, if your shot finds an innocent bystander.

===========

Many (most?) lawyers will agree that castle laws which give immunity to a civil suit for failure to prosecute, or a criminal finding of "not guilty", will eventually be overturned on constitutional grounds. This is because the burden of proof is very different for criminal (reasonable doubt) vs. civil (preponderance of evidence) cases. And the government cannot grant immunity to a person from being sued by another as this would be violating the rights of the person (possibly) wronged. There just hasn't been a good case to "come along" to challenge the law.
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Old 05-20-2011, 14:18   #9
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Originally Posted by PEC-Memphis View Post

===========

Many (most?) lawyers will agree that castle laws which give immunity to a civil suit for failure to prosecute, or a criminal finding of "not guilty", will eventually be overturned on constitutional grounds. This is because the burden of proof is very different for criminal (reasonable doubt) vs. civil (preponderance of evidence) cases. And the government cannot grant immunity to a person from being sued by another as this would be violating the rights of the person (possibly) wronged. There just hasn't been a good case to "come along" to challenge the law.
Not sure you're right... you are referring to the Seventh obviously.. but here are some highlights:

The Seventh Amendment (Amendment VII) to the United States Constitution,
which is part of the Bill of Rights, codifies the right to a jury
trial in certain civil cases. Unlike most of the Bill of Rights,
the Supreme Court has not incorporated the amendment's requirements to the states under the Fourteenth Amendment.

-Now I think the legal key here is that the amendment states that a person is entitled to a jury trial in civil cases (this assumes the case is "brought"), I believe in the case of the Castle Doctrine, the "case" cannot be brought through immunization, therefore there is no trial and no jury.

Its hair splitting but apparently it holds...As far as not having a good case come along? I recently read an article (and had a conversation with the author) who had reported that there have been almost 100 Castle Doctine aqcuitals in Florida since the law went on the books. Id say if it hasnt happened already, it probably holds water...
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Old 05-22-2011, 12:43   #10
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Not sure you're right... you are referring to the Seventh obviously.. but here are some highlights:

The Seventh Amendment (Amendment VII) to the United States Constitution,
which is part of the Bill of Rights, codifies the right to a jury
trial in certain civil cases. Unlike most of the Bill of Rights,
the Supreme Court has not incorporated the amendment's requirements to the states under the Fourteenth Amendment.

-Now I think the legal key here is that the amendment states that a person is entitled to a jury trial in civil cases (this assumes the case is "brought"), I believe in the case of the Castle Doctrine, the "case" cannot be brought through immunization, therefore there is no trial and no jury.

Its hair splitting but apparently it holds...As far as not having a good case come along? I recently read an article (and had a conversation with the author) who had reported that there have been almost 100 Castle Doctine aqcuitals in Florida since the law went on the books. Id say if it hasnt happened already, it probably holds water...
I'm 100% sure that my earlier statement is the opinion of many attorneys. Wether their opinion is correct is another matter. There are a couple of "go-to" attorneys in the west Tennessee area if you are a good-guy which needs a defense regarding the lawful use of a firearm. Both are very pro-carry. One occasionally speaks at firearm organizational meetings in the area regarding legal aspects of firearms. Both hold that civil suit immunity under castle laws will not stand if challenged, at least in Tennessee; keeping in mind that the actual language of castle laws vary from state to state.

As far as a good case comes along, the case will need to be where where the person would not meet the "guilty" standard for a criminal act, but would meet the standard for a civil suit. Think of something like the (first two) OJ Simpson cases, were he was acquitted in the criminal trial but was guilty in the civil suit.
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Old 05-23-2011, 12:21   #11
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I'm 100% sure that my earlier statement is the opinion of many attorneys. Wether their opinion is correct is another matter. There are a couple of "go-to" attorneys in the west Tennessee area if you are a good-guy which needs a defense regarding the lawful use of a firearm. Both are very pro-carry. One occasionally speaks at firearm organizational meetings in the area regarding legal aspects of firearms.
Many attorneys.... couple attorneys.. that seems a bit oxymoronic And forgive me, the fact that one speaks at firearm organziations doesnt mean anything. I am always sort of impressed that people think just because someone "speaks" at a function of some kind ore another they are undenyable "experts" on an issue. Just saying...


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Both hold that civil suit immunity under castle laws will not stand if challenged, at least in Tennessee; .
Glad they know this... ask them what next week lottery numbers are and let me know.... ya know.. since they see the future and all and since they sit on the Tennessee Supreme Court and all..... and since castle doctrine laws have been on the books in dozens of states for quite a few years and all.

Im really not trying to give you a hard time.. I just know some attorney much like you are describing and often they portray themselves to be experts in areas and often are not.

Now I had the opportunity to speak with Jon Gutmacher (author of Florida Firearm, Law Use and Ownership, who has sold over 100,000 copies of the many versions of his book and which the book is a reference for Law Enforcement (supposedly) in Florida, and he mentioned on a related issue that he felt invocation of Castle Doctrine Laws were pretty tight. Im inclined to believe that if it really was an issue it would have been attempted already.. although I could be wrong.
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Old 05-23-2011, 14:59   #12
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Many attorneys.... couple attorneys.. that seems a bit oxymoronic And forgive me, the fact that one speaks at firearm organziations doesnt mean anything. I am always sort of impressed that people think just because someone "speaks" at a function of some kind ore another they are undenyable "experts" on an issue. Just saying...


Glad they know this... ask them what next week lottery numbers are and let me know.... ya know.. since they see the future and all and since they sit on the Tennessee Supreme Court and all..... and since castle doctrine laws have been on the books in dozens of states for quite a few years and all.

Im really not trying to give you a hard time.. I just know some attorney much like you are describing and often they portray themselves to be experts in areas and often are not.

Now I had the opportunity to speak with Jon Gutmacher (author of Florida Firearm, Law Use and Ownership, who has sold over 100,000 copies of the many versions of his book and which the book is a reference for Law Enforcement (supposedly) in Florida, and he mentioned on a related issue that he felt invocation of Castle Doctrine Laws were pretty tight. Im inclined to believe that if it really was an issue it would have been attempted already.. although I could be wrong.
If I were so self-satisfied so to use emoticons to add smugness, I'd at least get my spelling correct, but that is another matter.

I happen to have spoken to these two attorneys. They know many other attorneys. They ask each other their views, opinions, approaches, etc, ie. they "network". They say that there are differing opinions, but the general consensus among their peers is as stated before.

Neither goes around "tooting" their own horn about being an expert on a particular subject. The one who speaks to some of the local groups does so without compensation - more of community service than anything else. I know a couple of people who used their services and how their cases were handled. The local television news stations and at least one local newspaper interview him regarding proposed firearm legislation and the legal ramifications. It is for these reasons, and their general demeanor, that I value their opinions. I assume they are better versed on the subject than I am.

How many laws have been overturned which existed for years, until the "right" case came along? I don't have a count, but I'm sure it is quite a few - you probably know of a few yourself.

I have an opinion from a couple of lawyers who have discussed this with their peers, and you have an opinion from an author of a book on the general subject; I suppose neither is worth "two dead flies" until the the law is challenged in court.

Hopefully, neither of us will be on either side of an actual case.

Do you really want civil immunity as part of a castle law? My personal opinion is that it is a two-edged sword. We've all heard of civil lawsuits where the criminal (or their family) sued the victim. (Remember Bernie Goetz?) Sometimes the victim "won", but at significant expense. Sometimes the victim lost, usually at even greater expense. On the other hand, if you, or a family member were injured by criminal acts of another person; and there were not a conviction (juries sometimes don't appear to make the best verdict) would you still like to be able to pursue civil action?
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Old 05-20-2011, 04:23   #13
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If it's legal, it's appropriate.

Yes?
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Old 05-20-2011, 09:42   #14
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If it's legal, it's appropriate.

Yes?
No. Lots of things that are legal are not appropriate, or even a good idea.

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Old 08-28-2012, 19:08   #15
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If it's legal, it's appropriate.

Yes?
Is it legal to fix or modify the brakes on your car? Sure. But when your brakes fail and you wipe out the little short bus full of "special needs" kids, what's your defense going to be?

It'll be easy to hang a negligence charge on you and I'll bet dollars to donuts that in every state of the union there are laws that state reckless & negligent acts + death of a human being = manslaughter.
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Old 08-29-2012, 03:37   #16
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Is it legal to fix or modify the brakes on your car? Sure. But when your brakes fail and you wipe out the little short bus full of "special needs" kids, what's your defense going to be?

It'll be easy to hang a negligence charge on you and I'll bet dollars to donuts that in every state of the union there are laws that state reckless & negligent acts + death of a human being = manslaughter.
There is no comparison between an excusable homicide and manslaughter due to reckless endangerment or negligence. One is deliberate and the other two are questionable.

Whether or not modifying a carry firearm is going to be a potential liability is going to depend upon the state in which you reside. My advise to this question, which seems to come up frequently, is to consult an attorney in your state who has experience in defending victims who have used deadly force against an assailant(s).

This is what I did. In my state, whether or not you have modified the trigger or anything else on the gun is not going to be an issue. What IS going to be an issue ("the 800 pound gorilla in the room" in his words) will be whether or not your actions were excusable. A prosecutor is not going to be able to argue that your actions were reckless or due to negligence when you freely admit that you shot Mr. Smith and that under the same set of circumstances, you would do the same thing again.
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Old 08-29-2012, 06:54   #17
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Is it legal to fix or modify the brakes on your car? Sure. But when your brakes fail and you wipe out the little short bus full of "special needs" kids, what's your defense going to be?

It'll be easy to hang a negligence charge on you and I'll bet dollars to donuts that in every state of the union there are laws that state reckless & negligent acts + death of a human being = manslaughter.
If one rams the little short bus on purpose, without touching the brakes, how would the modified brakes affect the outcome?

If one justifiably fires a weapon intentionally, explain how that can be easily charged as negligent manslaughter?
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Old 08-29-2012, 09:51   #18
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If one rams the little short bus on purpose, without touching the brakes, how would the modified brakes affect the outcome?
If one admits intentionally doing a criminal act, like shooting an innocent person or ramming a bus, they lose based on that and there is no need for anybody to claim negligence or debate trigger weight.

If a bank robber confesses, we don't hire an expert to enhance security pictures to prove its him.

Quote:
If one justifiably fires a weapon intentionally, explain how that can be easily charged as negligent manslaughter?
Hey, I know. It's because if one justificably fires a weapon intentionally, but also negligently hits someone they weren't justified in shooting, the justifications, such as self-defense, do not prevent conviction for criminal charges that involve negligence or wantoness, like negligent homicde (or many others).

Here's my state's statute:
Quote:
(2) When the defendant is justified under KRS 503.050 to 503.110 in using force upon or toward the person of another, but he wantonly or recklessly injures or creates a risk of injury to innocent persons, the justification afforded by those sections is unavailable in a prosecution for an offense involving wantonness or recklessness toward innocent persons.
That's if we even ignore the several explanations in this thread that the trigger can come into play when justification or intent is arguable.
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Old 08-29-2012, 10:25   #19
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Hey, I know. It's because if one justificably fires a weapon intentionally, but also negligently hits someone they weren't justified in shooting, the justifications, such as self-defense, do not prevent conviction for criminal charges that involve negligence or wantoness, like negligent homicde (or many others).
I completely agree with this. My reply was to the implication that a defender could be charged with negligence, for shooting an attacker, by using a light trigger.
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Old 08-30-2012, 04:54   #20
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Hey, I know. It's because if one justificably fires a weapon intentionally, but also negligently hits someone they weren't justified in shooting, the justifications, such as self-defense, do not prevent conviction for criminal charges that involve negligence or wantoness, like negligent homicde (or many others).
We don't have to concern ourselves with this in my state. If you are put in a situation where you must use deadly force and an innocent third party is struck by one of your rounds, it is the assailant who will be charged, not you. This doesn't mean that you are sure to escape civil litigation, but you will not be charge with a crime for injuries or death of the innocent bystander if your use of deadly force was excusable.
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