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Discussion Starter #1
I had an interesting discussion with a friend the other day about custom 1911s and their use. Seems my friend thought I was completely nuts for carrying a fullhouse Burns Custom 1911 as my CCW piece. His argument was that if I ever had to use it -- even if I was legally justified in doing so -- I would have to give it up in the ensuing Police investigation. Further, it was likely this evidence would be held for years, if not permanently. Worse still, was the fact it was such a highly customized pistol and that fact would be used against me in court.

Well, I had read these arguments several times before in the gun rags and parroted in self-defense books. I have also considered these arguments at length and decided that even if this were so, I would still rather carry the gun I feel is the most reliable and capable in my hands. I have more than one decent gun, and while it would pain me to give up a favorite gun, I think the benefits of having that gun in a life threatening encouter far outweights the possible hardship of losing it -- no matter the length of time that would be for.

I have also reasoned my legal argument for the custom guns use would be the modification were to ensure safe, reliable and accurate employment of the weapon. Thereby ensuring my personal safety and that of any innocent bystanders. To me, the use of deadly force is either justified or not and the choice of using the best possible weapon for that task is a valid one.

How many of you feel the same way as I do? How many of you carry an alternate gun -- precisely because you fear having to give it up in just this sort of situation? For those LE professionals and criminal attorneys onboard; Does this perception jive with your real world experiences? In your judgement, is the custom gun really a negative in court?

DD
 

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Interesting post, Desert Dog.

I for one agree that it is rather ludicrous for custom guns to be pitted against the user if used in a justified manner in self defense. However, I also believe that little or no amount of intellectual supportive argument on our behalf will persuade those who have been brainwashed by propaganda in this country exhibiting the power of one gun to make one human more powerful than god. I blame Hollywood for this, of course. It's quite simple. In the minds of the an average citizen who doesn't know squat about self-defense, firearms, and hasn't gone about seeking education in this field, just seems more likely to be persuaded by what they see on the movie screens than the statements of a proffesional of the field. Ignorance is one of our worst virtues. ;D Ironiccally, we seem to be fighting a war against ourselves.

Economic booming of the imaginative nature vs. Retaining our heritage, culture and the 2nd Amendment.

I really should get my gf (who is studying for a Masters in Sociology) to do a paper on this.

-Jim
 

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If a modification can be explained in court in terms of either enhancing your ability to deliver accurate, lifesaving shots on target, or enhancing the weapon's appeal to you and thus your training time with it, then go for it.
 

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DD, here is my take on this subject, as a gun addict and trial lawyer.

First, 99.9% of the people who pick up your pistol, including most cops, almost all lawyers, etc., would have no idea that it has been modified.

Second, unless the modification can be proven, or at least alleged with reason, to have caused what the case concerns, modifications to it will not only go unnoticed but also remain irrelevant. Now, we must use our heads here. If you modify it to operate as a belt-fed, of course it will be noticed. So, unless the modification caused it to fire, in some accidental or unintentional way, not much of an issue.

Third, if you use the gun in self defense, but are charged with a crime anyway, yes, chances are the pistol will be banging around in an evidence locker some place...maybe for years. If you are convicted, and the crime is a felony, maybe forever.

In the end, none of the arguments make any more sense to me than those who claim using handloads will get you convicted. I preach this over and over and over again though, the absolute best defense in a self defense case is that which will get you acquitted, or the case thrown out prior to trial. That is, have no choice remaining but to use the gun, under a reasonable fear that the aggressor [could write a book on who is the aggressor and how it can change multiple times in the same fight] is going to kill you or cause you serious bodily harm. AND, GET TRAINING, TRAINING, TRAINING. Not only because we need it, but it will help in proving the reasonableness of your actions / thought process.

I am leaving for a few days for a case in Chicago. When I get back, if it will help, I will put up a long post on the defense of self defense, and how training promotes that defense.

In short, my pistols, custom or otherwise, are all tools. Tools that are meant to provide me with enjoyment, and to save my life. If you paid $2,000 for a life jacket that could only be used once, but the jacket saved your life, or your kid's life, then was thrown away...would you feel cheated? I want tools that work, if the tool works and I have to lose it for awhile, so what...that is my view.
 

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I agree with DD - take what you feel most comfortable with.

As a lad my father ingrained in me that I should use the proper and best available tools for the job. All of my tools are to be used. I don't see much value in having a tool that can't be used. On the other hand, I've only recently been able to convince myself that I can afford more than a lightly customized gun. This gun will be a user. Perhaps then next one will be for appreciatlion only, but we'll see. :wink:

I don't use slip covers on my couch nor a plastic runner on my carpet. I think that in order to enjoy a piece of equipment one must be able to use it. Don't buy it if you can't afford it, it will only be a disappointment later.

For those of you lucky enought to be able to afford to collect, congratulations. The ability to collect art, watches, guns, whatever, can be enjoyed greatly.

IMHO the magazines have overstated the customized vs. standard issue. I can see this becoming an issue, particularly in a large urban area were people don't have much knowledge of firearms. But if you find yourself in this position, your representation will have more to do with your chances in court than your weaponry.
 

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No, a custom gun in no way SHOULD be portrayed as a negative thing.

If a carpenter uses an inferior hammer, and the head flies off and hits someone - the carpenter is liable. If that carpenter purchased the best quality hammer that his trade demands of that tool, the chances of accidental injury to himself or others is drastically reduced. Same thing here. As long as your gun modifications are done with sound, reliable parts - they can only add to the inherent value of the weapon's worth as a QUALITY TOOL.

The only negative that has not been explored is the "home tinkerer syndrome". I believe that the (unqualified) person doing the home 'smithing may have a lot more explaining to do, than if he sent the gun to a 'smith for the exact same modifications.

Any automobile lawyers out there want to comment on how your '68 Camaro that you've souped up in your driveway is perceived to be more of a killing machine than my wife's Ford Escort ?

The points in the preceding posts sum it nicely - well said guys.

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: Shane Kropf on 2001-04-25 13:48 ]</font>
 

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Could the Camaro be more of a killing machine than an Escort? Maybe, if you get a jury who is willing to believe that the only reason you buy a car like that is to speed. That's why you need a lawyer with good people skills and good credibility. The lawyer will lead the jury down the path to the truth. That's what we're for, right? :wink:

As for handloads, they make me nervous only from a testing standpoint. It'd be hard to exactly replicate them for gun powder residue tests. I'd hate to have a handload with abnormal characteristics (i.e. more residue than normal) that could lead to a good shoot being misinterpreted. Factories retain some ammo from each lot as exemplars so they'd be available.

One solution to the above problem is that you only carry ammo from a batch made at the same time, with identical components, and where some rounds were withheld and placed under seal.
 

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DD- You can be assured that the pistol WILL be seized as evidence until the investigation is completed. Thepistol stays in an evidence locker until the case is disposed of. Depending on the disposition of the case, the pistol could be returned or forfeited to the gov't.

Now just assume that the shooter is not charged or convicted and the pistol is returned, in what condition is the pistol? At best it's been put in a paper container of some type. Hopefully this is what happens. Ever seen a pistol tightly sealed in a plastic bag for a couple of months? The finest hardchrome or any other finish doesn't stand a chance. If the owner is real lucky the investigating officer is a gun nut workuing for a small jurisdiction and will periodically check out the pistol and oil it down. (I've done that more than once. I also work for an elected Sheriff and a happy, vindicated gun owner is a happy voter).

As to a trial, who knows what a jury might do? The outcome of the case is going to depend on how well YOU can articulate your position and how well your attorney argues your case (Hint-get the best you can afford)

I'll defer to Bruce on legal points, this thing has gottn way too long for my old brain now.


_________________
Sic Semper Tyrannus

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: Witherspoon on 2001-04-25 18:37 ]</font>
 

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Weapons are made to be used. I can't imagine spending money to customize a piece that I didn't plan on carrying and using. I would certainly try not to carry a piece that isn't set up as well as I can have it done. Same with a custom blade or a hunting rifle or shotgun. If one has the freedom to do so, one selects the best piece for the job at hand whether it be a knife that will stand up to abusive use or a bird gun with impeccable balance.

I surely carry and use the best pieces I own because that's what they were created for. I don't treat my pieces abusively, but I don't have lesser pieces to carry when the weather is inclement and I look at the scars of honest wear as beauty marks which enhance the value of the weapon personally.

Certainly don't have any objection to folks who collect weapons---it manages to put some pretty pristine specimens of first rate duty guns on the market from time to time.

The kicker that we enthusiasts often lose sight of when discussing ideal full house custom rigs is that folks who carry weapons professionally often have very narrow limitations that restrict their choice of duty weapons pretty stingently.

I will say that working in the Third World as a civilian and crossing multiple international borders for an extended period of time did convince me to opt for some rather basic pieces rather than what I might have preferred were I working with official sanction and didn't have to worry about a much valued piece being confiscated or left behind.

That scenario also places a premium on being able to do a little minor tuning on a pretty stock piece that one might find--and being right adaptable to what is available at the time and place.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
I wanted to thank everyone for the terrific replies. All of you offered me some further food for thought. It really is intersting to see how legal arguments attempt to turn something that should be a positive into a negative. I agree about getting as much training as is possible and I really need to make the time to take a few more classes. Sad to think someone might turn my desire to be a more responsible shooter into a charaterization of me as some predator or Rambo wanna-be in a legal proceeding, but I know that is possible. An excellent attorney is a must. I can't wait to read more from our most excellent attorney Bruce, when he returns from Chicago. I hadn't really considered Witherpsoons point about my custom gun possibly rotting away in plastic baggie hell. Bad thought... :roll:

DD
 

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DD - my carpet runner/slip cover metaphor was a generalization and not directed at you or anybody for that matter, please don't take it as a slight. :oops: I just find it amusing how much distance some people will go to preserve something meant to be used. From what you've shown of your collection I'm jealous to say the least.

Is putting a plastic baggie on your gun a yuppie thing? :wink: The thought of what might happen to a good gun in platic baggie hell is disturbing. I might have nightmares tonight.

Getting back to the original topic...

I stand by my earlier post. Use the best tools for the job and use what you feel most comfortable with. Even if your favorite custom pistol rots in baggie hell, its better that the alternative of your corpus rotting in the loam. I like Dane's reference to a Clint Smithism - "If you'll do, any gun will do".
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Matt,

I didn't take the slip cover metaphor as a slight in the least. It was actually a good one IMO. It also reminded me of childhood friend who has plastic covers on all their furniture. I always use to laugh, because they had two boxers who had flatulance problems and everytime the dogs would lay of the couches it was like a symphony of sounds and smells. Then the dogs would get up an move, as they couldn't stand the smell either! :lol:

DD
 

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This came up in a similar discussion on another board. The fight has just ended and you are the victor after the gun battle and there you stand as the black and white rolls up, cops hop out and yell, "Drop your gun!" The question posed was what you actually do with your high dollar, been to Gunsite and Thunder Ranch, love muffin of a gun that you take every where. Do you drop it? Set it down? etc. etc. etc. for other ways to dispose of the gun.

Some people actually suggested that you don't carry an expensive gun because if you have to use it, it will be confiscated pending the investigation!!

Here is my take on things. Legal hassles are just great to debate on bulletin boards, but when it really matters, are you really going to worry about your $2000 highly customized gun AFTER it saves your life? Sure we all want our goodies back ASAP, but let's face it, the reason why you carry a highly customized gun is that it is something you trust with your life, you know exactly how to handle it, and if you are still standing after the fight, then that gun has just paid off for you!!

Okay, you go to court because there is some question as to the circumstances and they try to hammer you on carrying a highly modified, light trigger, fast shooting, totally accurate gun loaded with nothing but the best premium defensive ammo you can find that will fire out of your gun in the hottest controlled manner you can handle. Well, that will suck, won't it. But!!! It will suck because you are alive to be there for it to suck. Now, if you can afford such a high dollar gun, my guess is that you have a good attorney who will mention many of the positive attributes of having a quality gun and how those attributes allowed you to place your shots on target, repeatedly.

Legal hassles are a pain, but you have nothing to worry about if you are dead and such legal issues are not going to come into play until someone is dead and the best choice is that it not be you.

By the way, if you are still concerned about what the lawyers and juries might think about using nothing but the best, I have a case of Raven .25s that I will let go for free, but only for the purposes of being used instead of quality custom guns that you are afraid to use. Just put your custom gun in your will as going to me when you don't use it for defense.

In court, you get a second chance. In a gunfight, you don't.
 

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DNS...you drop it. :smile:

Then, if you are smart, you tell them your name, tell them this man attacked you, and STFU.
 

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Ive thought alot about this very topic, seems most of us have. I think its a shame we even have to spend this much mental energy debating the possible risk of a custom pistol in the courtroom. It sickens me that we are such a society of legalisms that even a law abiding citizen that defends his/her life is likely to loose the very tool that kept them breathing. As some have stated here, even in the best case your gonna lose your pistola for at least a short while.

I am however more apt to carry a gun that i have a total of under $1000 in, simply becuase i dont want to beat up a $2200 pistol... and if i carry it, its gonna get boogered up cosmetically.

Good topic, ive learned alot from the previos posts.
 

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Interesting post. I've lurked here for awhile, and would like to speak to this issue. However, I can speak only for Arizona law, but in Arizona the issues you face in a self defense situation are the following: was the threat you faced illegal, was it immediate and was it deadly. These issues have nothing to do with the nature of the force (ie, the quality or quantity) you use against your opponent. If either the prosecutor, the judge or perhaps ultimately the jury believes that all of these three issues existed when you raised your BCP $2,000 blaster loaded with Black Talons, it seems that what you use to defeat the illegal, immediate and deadly threat is irrelevant.

Now, that said, if there is an issue about any of the three elements of self defense, then the prosecutor might raise the value of your investment in the weapon or your skills as an indication of your eagerness to use either/both. If you have a BCP $2,000 blaster you train with weekly or pay large sums to secure professional training, such information might be relevant to the issue of whether the force is immediate or deadly. The argument might be presented that the defendant was not in danger or the threat was not a immediate threat due to his/her's proficiency with the firearm, or that you just wanted to exercise your abilities. So, if your defense does not get beyond the issue of whether you threat was illegal, deadly and immediate, the quality of the weapon might prove relevant.

You also need to consider that a handgun is a handgun is a handgun. They all have bullets, triggers and sights. Once it is put in play, so long as you have a legitimate threat, what difference would it make if your using a Burns Custom, a stock WWII Remington 1911A1 or a Colt SAA, a M16 or a B52. The same can be said for bullets. Hardball, hollow point or lead round nose all will perform the same chore. What difference do either the weapon or load make to whether you were confronted with a situation that required you to defend yourself/loved one. I mean, is there such a thing as too much deadly force available to you to defend either yourself or your daughter?

A more important factor, perhaps, might be the shooter's ability and training. What is an immediate danger to me might not seem as serious to an experienced LEO or a well trained person. A well trained person knows how to react when confronted to a point that he'll yell scream, retreat or whatever to avoid first, leaving no alternative but to respond with deadly force. A poorly trained, (no training) might react immediately when there is still room to avoid. These issues seem more important than the quality of the gun or ammo. A better trained individual seems more capable of proving the immediate, deadly nature of the illegal force being applied against him. A better trained individual understands the Nike self defense theory.

Once you are arrested, you need to be released "OR", or with a bond, and in Arizona the orders of the court will always be not to have any firearms in your possession. So not only will you have to give up the gun involved, but any other firearm you possess in your home. If you are convicted of a felony, you will lose your right to own a firearm, until your civil rights are restored after you have completed your sentence.

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: wrmettler on 2001-05-09 02:14 ]</font>
 

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wrmettler,

Your explaination that Arizona law requires the
confiscation/surrender of all one's firearms
caught my attention.
Does anyone know if that is common practice elsewhere?
Makes one wonder if the instrument used was, say, a
knife, would the court order the confiscation of all the
defendant's knives?
I am curious as to the reasoning behind this practice at
the earliest stage of the process, the bond hearing.

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: Sport on 2001-05-09 14:17 ]</font>
 

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I suppose there might be a jurisdiction somewhere where this could be a problem, but in general this is a non-issue. Bruce, the trial lawyer, hit it on the head earlier when he said that most cops, prosecutors, and attorneys wouldn't know one gun from another, and wouldn't know if one had/had not been modified.
I have spent 30 years either investigating shootings or being an expert witness in shooting cases, and it boils down to this-
If you are justified in shooting someone, it doesn't matter at all what you shoot him with.
If you are not justified in shooting someone, it doesn't matter at all what you shoot him with.
In my area, if involved in a justifiable shooting, IF your gun is siezed you typically have it back in a week or two. Several of my students who have been involved in clear-cut cases didn't even have to surrender the gun.
Why do you carry a gun? As a status symbol or a tool to fight with? I want the best tool I can get my hands on in a fight. I don't carry a $4,000 full blown custom gun, NOR a $500.00 box stock gun. I carry an appropriately modified pistol that I know will work when I need it.
 

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Oh goody! Lunch time chat subjects :grin:

Couple of things worth discussion that have not been addressed yet IMO.

First there are really TWO issues here, criminal liability and civil liability.

One will mean time in jail and the results of that conviction.

The other will cost you your house and all your guns to pay for if you made a error in judgement.

In some states a "no bill" judgement on a criminal charge will eliminate any civil liability. Not every state has such a statute. Check you local state laws.

Let's readdress the criminal side of the issue. IF the shooting is justifiable then you can use anything from a MAC truck, to flame thrower or a $6000 Vicker's blaster with a 1.5 OZ trigger on it and all safeties removed. It doesn't matter IF THE USE OF LETHAL FORCE WAS JUSTIFIED. Yes, you can loose your gun from a given few minutes during the detectives investigation on sight, to years as the system clarifies it's response to you either way. If the weapon used was illegal, like a Flame thrower without registration, or a illegal short shotgun, then you will have a problem with that outside the use of lethal force.

I prefer to use the very best for my own self defense so I carry a highly modified 1911. But again, as mentioned, most wouldn't have a clue it is any different between a full house Heinie and a GI issue 1911 unless you or your attorney make an issue of it. My suggestion is drop the thing in the dirt when told and forget about it until you get it back. Out of sight, is out of mind....you'll have bigger problems than worring about your gun....$6000 blaster or $200 blaster. My suggestion? FORGET IT, short term!

The answer to loosing your is HAVE ANOTHER GUN you are comforatble with. Trust me on this, but if you just defended your life or another innocent's with lethal force....you'll want another gun on your person after they take the one you used...and one just as good as the first.

That means a pair IMO.

Being ORed or on bail generally requires you not to be armed. Sometimes to the extent of confiscation of your registered firearms until the criminal charges are settled.

Did I mention how they locate and confiscate your weapnons while while on bail?

Any one who carries a PDW for their own protection should be aware of all of these facts as starters.

As Tom Given's alludes to here geographical differences do make some of this more or less of an issue. Tom's students involved in gun fights in Memphis all have exceptional training and made good judgements because of it, hence the legal hassle factor was low. It is also the system in Memphis "helping" out. There is a world of difference between Seattle and Memphis on how some of the things would be addressed in a self defense shooting. But it helps to keep in mind that everyone of Tom's student's shootings I have been debriefed on would most likely have good cleans bills in Seatlle too. The reason?

Good judgement by the shooter on the use of lethal force. That comes from a good education on the issue.

To sum it up, have two guns, plan on loosing the one you use to defend yourself with. Get a documented, formal, education in the "justifiable use of lethal force" for a professional. Use the best gun you can afford to protect yourself with.

Finally, MAKE GOOD SELF DEFENSE JUDGEMENTS when you use lethal force at any level. If you do, keeping your guns and keeping your hard earned fortune, will be much easier :grin:

Good lunch hour :wink: thanks!




<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: Dane Burns on 2001-05-09 15:44 ]</font>
 

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Well, Dane, where is the second half of my pair of pistol?? Come on man, chop chop. :grin:

Listen to these guys, boys, what they are saying is golden.
 
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