He’s got a (Modified) Gun!!!
“Well… if you have night sights on your pistol you can forget about getting a fair trail… you are definitely going to jail!”
“You installed an SRT Trigger on your Sig! OMG!!! You are going to get sued out of existence!…. and you are going to get sued while you are sitting in prison!!!”
“You have a personalized holster?… My God man! What are you saying to a jury?!??
“There is a dust cover on your AR-15 that has a personalized saying? Legal death for you!”
“Holly Crap! You wear tactical pants and shirts! What do you think a jury is going to say about that?”
“You wrote something on a discussion forum about shooting punks that threaten you!” (Yeah… actually… you might not want to do that one.)
Every CCW class we get questions about what is, or is not going to be permissible when it comes to gear and use of force. During that discussion, many questions pop up about things that people have heard regarding the legal system and use of force. Specifically things that are going to get you in trouble.
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From this discussion… usually driven by posts people have read on the internet, or news stories regarding use of force, a general consensus develops that the only firearm you can carry must be the most common type being sold at any given time… it must have absolutely no personalization… it must be carried at the 3’ o’clock position, and the holster must be expensive… but not too expensive… and it must be of current design… but not too current.
Stories like this don’t help:
In the story quoted in the link, a Mesa Police Officer is on trial for murder, for shooting a suspect in a hotel room with his own personal AR-15. To the casual reader it would appear that the defendant cop was completely justified in his shooting and everything was copacetic… until it was discovered that he had a personalized dust cover on the weapon that had a vulgar saying written on it.
Sac re bleu!
No… the dust cover did not turn a justified shooting into an unjustified one. It might be evidence that, taken in totality of the circumstances, tends to point towards some sort of intent… but the common nature of those dust covers is probably going to negate that.
Still the story plays upon a common fear: Personalize my weapon and what should have made me a hero makes me a villain.
Let’s look at it another way…. A driver is involved in a car accident. Their car is a Volvo, and while crossing a “T” intersection another driver runs a red light and hits their car. Loosing control over their vehicle after the impact they careen into a pedestrian.
Clearly the driver of the Volvo is innocent.
Would the case be any different if they were in a Ferrari? … or a Prius?
Of course not.
The same holds for a firearm.
Most people forget that for every argument that is presented to a jury, opposing counsel gets the opportunity to provide a counter argument.
“The defendant had the audacity to put an SRT Trigger on his Sig Sauer pistol! Clearly he had an evil intent in his heart! After all Policy 218 clearly says that you may not modify a trigger on a CCW gun… and why would you want to? The only reason you would modify the trigger is that you want to kill someone!”
“Actually, the defendant will call multiple expert witnesses to show that failure to replace the trigger with an SRT Trigger would be indicative of someone who is not familiar with their firearm or chooses not to practice on a regular basis. The SRT Trigger is completely safe, and in fact makes the firearm more accurate, not more dangerous. Policy 218 references adjusting the trigger pull, the SRT Trigger is not an adjustment, it is a replacement to a superior product.”
The jury will decide the merits of the argument from both sides.
Policy 218 sates:
“The alteration of any previously approved firearm including, but not limited to, adjusting the trigger pull or making other modifications that create an unsafe weapon (Penal Code § 31910) shall void any license and serve as grounds for revocation.”
So for all of the arm chair lawyers that claim that the firearm must be “stock”:
If you have a 1911 that has crappy magazines… will replacing them with Wilson Combats be a violation of 218? (I’ll answer it for you: No)
What about replacing your recoil spring with an 18 pound spring as opposed to the original 15.5lb one? (again… no problem)
RMR’s? – knock yourself out.
Night sights? – go for it cowboy.
Policy 218 is silent on these, and the argument that it makes you a faster more accurate shooter is probably going to negate the counter argument that the only reason you did these alterations is the desire to kill innocent people.
For if we are going to concern ourselves exclusively with the arguments of opposing counsel could the same not be said for training itself?
“The defendant trains weekly! Who trains weekly except for those that are looking for a gun fight!”
Would that argument be made in court?
“Will a jury only be left with that argument and no rebuttal?
I hope not!