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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.

Last edited by RussP; 11-08-2012 at 06:24..
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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 05-19-2011, 15:37   #3
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Quote:
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, 04:23   #4
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If it's legal, it's appropriate.

Yes?
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Old 05-20-2011, 04:33   #5
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The truth is, there is nothing to be gained by modifying your CCW gun like the cool guys in the gun magazines do, so why take any risk at all to do it?
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Old 05-20-2011, 05:18   #6
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I think Mas has addressed this issue. Not sure if it's a sticky. My Glocks have stock triggers. You can train for them and not have any concerns about a ADA coming after you because you intentionally modified the fire control system.It would be hard to explain to a jury of non shooters why this was necessary. May be ok for a competition gun, but not a carry piece IMO. IANAL.
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Old 05-20-2011, 07:14   #7
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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.
ABSOLUTELY it has validity! A jury is made up of people. They have biases, misinformation, media hyped memories and potentially jaded view of gun ownership. You get a prosecutor who can hype up your specially modified gun designed to ensure spectacular deaths with a head shot scattering brainmatter over the bodies of little children standing around.....And you are toast.

Your defense atty can logically explain in detail the depth of research you made about the parts installation to ensure the saftey of those around the perp.....But people are people, just take a look at how "hopey changey" got the great black dope elected.....But I digress....
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Old 05-20-2011, 09:42   #8
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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.

Last edited by David Armstrong; 05-20-2011 at 09:42..
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Old 05-20-2011, 09:44   #9
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The truth is, there is nothing to be gained by modifying your CCW gun like the cool guys in the gun magazines do, so why take any risk at all to do it?
That is the key. For most there is nothing to be gained, but it opens you to an added element of risk. Any modification that takes a gun outside of the factory recommendations or the industry norms becomes problematic and you need to be prepared to justify the modification. Sometimes that is pretty easy, but many other times it is very questionable.

Last edited by David Armstrong; 05-20-2011 at 09:49..
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Old 05-20-2011, 11:37   #10
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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, 13:14   #11
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That is the key. For most there is nothing to be gained, but it opens you to an added element of risk. Any modification that takes a gun outside of the factory recommendations or the industry norms becomes problematic and you need to be prepared to justify the modification. Sometimes that is pretty easy, but many other times it is very questionable.
Exactly. Modifications to the gun are unlikely to ever be an issue. You are very unlikely to ever use your gun and if you do shoot a person, gun modifications are very unlikely to come up, unless the shooting was unintentional or legally questionable. So the risk with modifications is very low. BUT the value of the modifications is even lower, so the risk isn't justified when you weigh the possible gain against it.
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Old 05-20-2011, 13:17   #12
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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 05-20-2011, 14:03   #13
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How about if you use JHP ammo instead of FMJ or you use +P+ ammo instead of standard ammo? I mean if you think about it the DA can say or use what ever he wants to try to sway the jury his way..
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Old 05-20-2011, 14:18   #14
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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 05-20-2011, 14:20   #15
datnvan
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Originally Posted by tonyparson View Post
How about if you use JHP ammo instead of FMJ or you use +P+ ammo instead of standard ammo? I mean if you think about it the DA can say or use what ever he wants to try to sway the jury his way..
use of factory jhp has been addressed before and i feel 100% comfortable carrying any factory jhp. my primary sd ammo is speer LE gold dot 124+p. i also have several boxes of various other brand jhp. all readily available here in tx and all i wouldnt hesitate to carry. the problem i see is you alter the internal workings of the gun. things that the manufacturer did not want, if they did they would have made it that way. to a shooter they may be improvements, to a jury/DA they may be considered unecessary and excessive. probably wont come up in a criminal trial but chances are it may show up in a civil court. as with many other cases, you may be innocent in criminal court but guilty in civil court.

Last edited by datnvan; 05-20-2011 at 14:25..
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Old 05-20-2011, 18:49   #16
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Originally Posted by tonyparson View Post
How about if you use JHP ammo instead of FMJ or you use +P+ ammo instead of standard ammo? I mean if you think about it the DA can say or use what ever he wants to try to sway the jury his way..
Sure, but in that case the defense is easy....you have used the same type of ammo that is recommended for SD by most everyone, including the local police. It is when you do things that are contrary to the accepted standards that it becomes troublesome.
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Old 05-20-2011, 19:22   #17
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Conflicting standards, perhaps.

FMJ are required for armies under the Hague Convention of 1899. That convention moved away from expanding type bullets because they were deemed too cruel.

Sure the current argument is that FMJs have more tendency than HPs to to over-penetrate, and thus, potentially pose a threat to any bystander behind the BG. But it's beyond the shooter's control if the BG turns out to be skinny rather that fat. In any case, the average American in 2011 is much more fatter than the average European in 1899.

Of course, there's also the "if FMJs are legal, they're appropriate" argument.

For your consideration.
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Old 05-20-2011, 23:55   #18
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It will never be an issue for you in TX.
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Old 05-21-2011, 10:40   #19
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Conflicting standards, perhaps.

FMJ are required for armies under the Hague Convention of 1899. That convention moved away from expanding type bullets because they were deemed too cruel.
One of the big reasons that was agreed to is because they are arguably more effective in a war scenario. If you severely injure a soldier, you have the potential to stop multiple soldiers from fighting, vis-a-vis an additional soldier or two helping the wounded get clear of fire and get medical aid. Kill him, and you have only take out one.

The arguments that have held up in court in favor of JHP are:

1. They stop the threat more quickly.
2. They have less tendency to over-penetrate *as you stated
3. They have less tendency for ricochet.

I'd also like to point out that in war, over-penetration is a GOOD thing. goes through some light barriers, has the potential to wound additional targets, etc. In civilian life, we don't really want that. A 45ACP ball might be ok on a fat target, but a 9mm or 357sig in hard ball will go through most targets, no matter how obese. And they would do very little to ensure a quick stop to the threat.

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Old 05-21-2011, 11:16   #20
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FMJ are required for armies under the Hague Convention of 1899. That convention moved away from expanding type bullets because they were deemed too cruel.
The attached link is good reading and makes some of the same points you guys are making.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Expanding_bullet
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Old 05-21-2011, 14:44   #21
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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 05-22-2011, 12:14   #22
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If anyone has any examples of someone convicted because of a modified trigger. . .
Strawman Alert! As has been pointed out numerous times by folks who have actually done it, a modification is is not going to be the independent cause of a conviction. However, it can be one variable among many, and it is a variable where the cost almost always outweighs the benefit. Rarely will a single issue get a person convicted, it is almost always a combination of issues. And even if one does not get convicted it doesn't mean there haven't been problems.
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Old 05-22-2011, 12:43   #23
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Originally Posted by RYT 2BER View Post
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 05-22-2011, 18:10   #24
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This comes up every so often now that we should have stickies on top of stickies

I'm not aware of one state that has a law on gun modifications and that includes Florida. If gun mods where illegal than night lights, size of caliber, magazine capacity, glow in the dark sights, CW gun training, tactical pants and every thing in between, could be questioned.

Please name me one case, where a gun trigger mod, turned a legal self-defense from legal to illegal?
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Old 05-23-2011, 09:48   #25
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Please name me one case, where a gun trigger mod, turned a legal self-defense from legal to illegal?
Stawman Alert (again)! As has been pointed out numerous times by folks who have actually done it, a modification is is not going to be the independent cause of a conviction, nor will it impact the actual law of self-defense. However, it can be one variable among many, and it is a variable where the cost almost always outweighs the benefit.
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I'm not aware of one state that has a law on gun modifications and that includes Florida. If gun mods where illegal than night lights, size of caliber, magazine capacity, glow in the dark sights, CW gun training, tactical pants and every thing in between, could be questioned.
Actually you sort of prove the point, as some of those items and others like them have been an issue at various criminal and civil trials over the years and have been questioned. Fortunately most of them are easy to defend as normal and accepted modifications. The real problem is those modifications that are not within the normal and accepted realm, or those that are specifically recommended against by those in the field.

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