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Thread: Justified shooting, modified handgun, CIVIL LIABILITY???

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    Regular Member ryan7068's Avatar
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    Justified shooting, modified handgun, CIVIL LIABILITY???

    Hey all. I do like to modify certain guns on occasion but not typically my carry guns too much. I have read around on the web that modifications (i.e. Glocks: low weight trigger, skull and crossbones emblem, night sites/lasers, certain ammo) have really opened people up when hit with a civil suit even after a justified shooting. I'd like to know how accurate this is and any examples. Thanks all!
    "Yes, I am carrying a loaded firearm. Why aren't you? "

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    Campaign Veteran roscoe13's Avatar
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    Thumbs down

    So, rather than ask the people who WROTE these things you read for examples, you want US to do YOUR research for you????

    Roscoe
    "The very atmosphere of firearms anywhere and everywhere restrains evil interference - they deserve a place of honor with all that's good." - George Washington

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    Regular Member WalkingWolf's Avatar
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    You mean like painting guns pink? Or grips with your initials? As far as I have seen the only thing considered in civil suits is justification. OP maybe you have something that points in the other direction.

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    Regular Member ryan7068's Avatar
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    So rather than get a membership to every single site and wait for admin approval and then get junk mail from everyone and their mother, I figured it was best to go to the more educated individuals at OCDO and ask if there was any merit to these claims. After all this site is here to educate.....at least that's what I thought. Thanks for your obvious lack of concern and your unneeded reply roscoe.
    Last edited by ryan7068; 06-27-2012 at 03:31 PM.
    "Yes, I am carrying a loaded firearm. Why aren't you? "

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    Regular Member WalkingWolf's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ryan7068 View Post
    So rather than get a membership to every single site and wait for admin approval and then get junk mail from everyone and their mother, I figured it was best to go to the more educated individuals at OCDO and ask if there was any merit to these claims. After all this site is here to educate.....at least that's what I thought. Thanks for your obvious lack of concern and your unneeded reply roscoe.
    First off in my opinion the ammo gun modification thing is a myth, there is no multitude of cases to prove it exists. The same as the gunfights at OK Coral Main Street America because people are allowed to carry guns. The laws are spelled out for when you can and cannot use lethal force, you could be swinging a Louisville slugger, if you are justified you are justified. You should not be looking for memberships to research if you are serious, you should be researching court cases. Somehow I have the feeling you were never serious.

    If another person is injured due to a gun malfunction/accident/negligent discharge, whether the gun was modified or not the owner is going to face charges, and civil liabilities.
    Last edited by WalkingWolf; 06-27-2012 at 03:47 PM.

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    Regular Member ryan7068's Avatar
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    Actually I am just unaware of the best way to research past court cases efficiently. I mostly just wanted to know if it was of any concern. Also, I wouldn't be asking if I hadn't attempted to find out on my own. And, I am quite certain there is nothing wrong with asking others on here if they have any knowledge from previous postings or research......or did I miss it somewhere in the forum rules?

    Ultimately it was meant as a serious inquiry, but obviously everyone on here seems hell bent on giving a hard time. A little constructive criticism may be an order.

    **I believe the argument is that you modified your gun in hopes of one day using it on someone and that you were a gun nut looking for a fight**
    Last edited by ryan7068; 06-27-2012 at 04:03 PM.
    "Yes, I am carrying a loaded firearm. Why aren't you? "

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    Regular Member WalkingWolf's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ryan7068 View Post
    Actually I am just unaware of the best way to research past court cases efficiently. I mostly just wanted to know if it was of any concern. Also, I wouldn't be asking if I hadn't attempted to find out on my own. And, I am quite certain there is nothing wrong with asking others on here if they have any knowledge from previous postings or research......or did I miss it somewhere in the forum rules?

    Ultimately it was meant as a serious inquiry, but obviously everyone on here seems hell bent on giving a hard time. A little constructive criticism may be an order.
    Well you have been here a year or so, have you seen it brought up? Did you try a search? Sorry if I seemed course, but the laws are pretty clear on self defense in most cases. In fact there was a father who beat a man to death to defend his daughter, and he is not being sued for using his fists. The law allows you to use any means necessary if your life is put in danger. A few states do have restrictions on ammo type. In some cases where it was illegal to have a gun, and a gun was used in self defense the shooter was still found not guilty. A famous case in NYC, I do not know if he was sued or not, but don't remember any mention of it.

    Most times also the individual gun is not made the example of scrutiny. The media focuses on things such 'auto' or 'assault rifle' and use the same basic pictures instead of the actual guns when reporting. Most police and the public would have no idea if a gun has been modified.

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    Regular Member ryan7068's Avatar
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    people have been sued successfully for wrongful death while being found not guilty in a court of law or never being prosecuted. As stated earlier, I did search but found nothing with any base. Trial by error doesn't really seem like the best decision in these cases so always safe to ask.
    Last edited by ryan7068; 06-27-2012 at 04:12 PM.
    "Yes, I am carrying a loaded firearm. Why aren't you? "

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    Regular Member wylde007's Avatar
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    Cool

    I think the only liability you might face is if it could be proven that your firearm had been ILLEGALLY modified (silencer, full-auto, etc) and then that would be a criminal FIREARMS charge independent of any civil liability, should the municipality choose to pursue it.

    At least in Virginia, if the KILLING (or wounding) can be justified as self-defense, it doesn't really matter what implement was used.
    The quiet war has begun, with silent weapons
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    Regular Member ryan7068's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wylde007 View Post
    I think the only liability you might face is if it could be proven that your firearm had been ILLEGALLY modified (silencer, full-auto, etc) and then that would be a criminal FIREARMS charge independent of any civil liability, should the municipality choose to pursue it.

    At least in Virginia, if the KILLING (or wounding) can be justified as self-defense, it doesn't really matter what implement was used.
    Thanks wylde. Thats all I was looking for......any rational input as to the claims merit/ or lack there of.
    "Yes, I am carrying a loaded firearm. Why aren't you? "

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    Regular Member WalkingWolf's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ryan7068 View Post
    Thanks wylde. Thats all I was looking for......any rational input as to the claims merit/ or lack there of.
    That's just it there has not been any claims or suits brought by perps being shot with a modified gun. Now there has been suits when the gun owner has been injured by a gun from a manufacturer. And I would imagine if a person modified a gun that blew up in the hands of another would get sued.

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    Regular Member wylde007's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by WalkingWolf View Post
    That's just it there has not been any claims or suits brought by perps being shot with a modified gun.
    I suggest, then, that one could draw one of two conclusions from this statement.

    That either 1) a "modified" gun has never been used defensively or 2) the person using a "modified" weapon in the course of justifiable self-defense has never been prosecuted for any criminal act.

    And since there is no data to support either hypothesis, it is somewhat moot, is it not?
    The quiet war has begun, with silent weapons
    And the newest slavery is to keep the people poor, and stupid
    Novos ordo seclorum ~ Mustaine

    Never argue with an idiot. He will drag you down to his level and beat you with experience.

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    Regular Member ryan7068's Avatar
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    Much appreciation for the links grapeshot.
    "Yes, I am carrying a loaded firearm. Why aren't you? "

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    Campaign Veteran MAC702's Avatar
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    I figure I only need to worry about it on the third or fourth shooting. I figure it will take them that long to figure out what the hash marks on the frame are for.
    "It's not important how many people I've killed. What's important is how I get along with the people who are still alive" - Jimmy the Tulip

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    Regular Member SouthernBoy's Avatar
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    This topic comes up a lot on other gun websites. Check out glocktalk.com/forums and you'll find some current discussions on this. I have contributed a number of times on that site.

    Several years ago, I posed just this question to an attorney here in Virginia and well know to this site. I asked about trigger modifications (because of some bull headed arguments on glocktalk). His response was (paraphrased), "The 800 pound gorilla in the room is not going to be any modifications you made to your trigger or gun but whether or not your use of deadly force was excusable".

    Last year at one of this attorney's use of deadly force seminars, I asked the commonwealth's attorney for Loudoun County and a candidate running for that county' sheriff position if wrongful death lawsuits, or similar, are common against a victim after the victim has been found not guilty or no billed. Both said that they were not and that they couldn't recall any in Virginia. Doesn't mean you can't or won't get sued but our affirmative defense tends to negate such suits when the victim is deemed to have acted within the law.
    In the final seconds of your life, just before your killer is about to dispatch you to that great eternal darkness, what would you rather have in your hand? A cell phone or a gun?

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    You asked about civil cases, specifically, but there's a difference between civil and criminal that's important here. In a criminal case, there's the "finding" phase of the trial (conclusion: guilty or not-guilty) and the "sentencing" phase. Modifications will be relevant to sentencing. If you are found guilty of murder because you shot someone, then the fact that you modified the gun to be extra-good at killing people would be something that the prosecutors would use against you. It is not relevant at all to the "finding" phase, in my opinion.

    In a civil case, there is no such dichotomy. The trial is all one thing. Again, if you did something wrong that you ought to pay for, then the fact that you modified the gun to be especially efficient at killing someone could be relevant. It could be argued that it was evidence that you were ready, willing, and able, and therefore intended, to kill. That would be relevant to the issue of damages, and especially punitive damages.

    If you don't have a legally sufficient and good reason to kill someone, don't think about the gun, don't touch it, don't gesture towards it, don't refer to it in any way. Forget it's there unless and until it is really necessary to kill someone. And should worse come to worse, and that necessity arises, then don't try to use the gun as a negotiating ploy, as a tool of intimidation, or as a warning. While you can always change your mind and put the gun away, at the time you pull a gun out of its holster, you should already have a legally sufficient and good reason to kill someone.

    In other words, at that point, you should be ready, willing, and able.

    As Southernboy pointed out, the big issue in the case is going to be the fact that you shot someone. So if you don't have to dance around that issue or pretend it didn't happen, then you can confront the evidence squarely, readily admit the shooting, and be able to explain (with my assistance) why it was the right thing to do. In that case, the fact that you've modified the gun to be more efficient is completely irrelevant. It doesn't matter how you killed Badguy, what matters is why.
    Last edited by user; 06-28-2012 at 09:24 AM.
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    This OP looking to add a light saber to his pistol?

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    Regular Member WalkingWolf's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by davidmcbeth View Post
    This OP looking to add a light saber to his pistol?
    I think the OP has read a lot of BS from some people who tend to over think an issue that is not an issue. User put it as plain as we could possibly get.

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    I really can't see why legal modifications to your firearm would somehow make a difference as to whether or not you're justified in pulling the trigger. What matters is why you shot someone, not that your weapon had night sights, a lighter trigger pull, or some artwork on it. If you modify your gun to be more efficient, that is a good thing, as you should want the tool that you will use to defend your life to be efficient. Worrying that some prosecutor might try to use it against you to prove you were "ready to kill" is a waste of time. Making any tool you have more efficient should be considered a good thing.

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    Regular Member wylde007's Avatar
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    Cool

    One question I have not seen addressed (unless I missed it somehow) is that when a shooting is "justified" do the authorities ALWAYS confiscate the firearm of the shooter?

    And if they do confiscate said firearm, what investigation of it do they perform, if any? Do they only use the barrel to verify ballistics? Do they merely keep it until the shooter is absolved? Do they detail strip it and check each part for 922r compliance?

    I just don't know how they'd know whether a firearm was really "modified". Do all forces have a firearms expert who is familiar with 100% OEM weapons and which "modifications" that can be performed to those weapons would be considered applicable to the abstract of "intent"?

    I doubt it.
    Last edited by wylde007; 06-29-2012 at 08:58 AM. Reason: grammer not gud.
    The quiet war has begun, with silent weapons
    And the newest slavery is to keep the people poor, and stupid
    Novos ordo seclorum ~ Mustaine

    Never argue with an idiot. He will drag you down to his level and beat you with experience.

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    Regular Member OC for ME's Avatar
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    Ah.....the ole 'racing stripe' routine.

    You got a racing stripe put on your Yugo so you must be a fella who was going to do 125 in a school zone.
    "I would rather be exposed to the inconveniences attending too much liberty than to those attending too small a degree of it." - Thomas Jefferson.

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    Regular Member paramedic's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by roscoe13 View Post
    So, rather than ask the people who WROTE these things you read for examples, you want US to do YOUR research for you????

    Roscoe
    Let me start off by thanking all who took this OP seriously and did there best to answer his question.

    All our lives we are taught by our parents, teachers, and other various intructors that there is no such thing as a stupid question. Then you have a person come to the place where he knows the most knowledgable people on any firearm subject can be found, and he asked a question that he feels is a valid question, he then get belittled by someone on here. I believe if you do not have something constructive to say, just don't say anything. When I was a brand new OCer, I had to ask several questions and have learned a tremendous amount from the people on here. So in the future I think it would be a good idea to maybe not be so critical of someone asking a question.

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    Regular Member ChinChin's Avatar
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    Perhaps a tad bit off topic, in the event you do have to shoot somebody, it is important that you keep your yap shut! Not because you may inadvertently say something which the police or prosecuting attorney could use against you in court (although a valid concern) but even if you managed to get a responding officer who was understanding, and a D.A. who didn’t want to pursue charges against you., there are still the cadre of ambulance chasers and personal injury lawyers who can easily subpoena the notes the responding officer took down after arriving at your shooting incident and can twist those notes around any number of ways to make you look like Charles Branson on a vigilante rampage.

    Always.speak.through.a.lawyer!

    It may cost a bit upfront, but it beats having a lien placed on your home, savings and kids college fund by a shyster Saiontz & Kirk litigator out to get money for the family of the “sweet little angel” who you shot.
    The problem with the internet is nobody can really tell when you’re serious and when you’re being sarcastic. –Abraham Lincoln

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    Regular Member SouthernBoy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wylde007 View Post
    One question I have not seen addressed (unless I missed it somehow) is that when a shooting is "justified" do the authorities ALWAYS confiscate the firearm of the shooter?

    And if they do confiscate said firearm, what investigation of it do they perform, if any? Do they only use the barrel to verify ballistics? Do they merely keep it until the shooter is absolved? Do they detail strip it and check each part for 922r compliance?

    I just don't know how they'd know whether a firearm was really "modified". Do all forces have a firearms expert who is familiar with 100% OEM weapons and which "modifications" that can be performed to those weapons would be considered applicable to the abstract of "intent"?

    I doubt it.
    If I may add to your question, if they do take it, and I'm quite sure they would, can go carry one of your other handguns once you are free to go?
    In the final seconds of your life, just before your killer is about to dispatch you to that great eternal darkness, what would you rather have in your hand? A cell phone or a gun?

    Si vis pacem, para bellum.

    America First!

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