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« A REQUEST FOR ADVICE | Main | Knoxville Gun Show Notes Vol. II »

December 22, 2003

Litigation Prevention

Youíve gotten your concealed weapons permit. Or youíve purchased a gun that you will keep at your house for protection. What do you need to know to avoid legal trouble in the event you have to shoot someone?

I will attempt to address some of that here. Bear in mind, I am not a lawyer and if youíre in such a situation, seek legal counsel.

Given the recent climate of litigation against the gun industry and against individuals who have used guns defensively, some interesting things have occurred. Gun modifications and ammo choices have been used to convince juries that individuals involved in otherwise justifiable shootings had malicious intent. Some things to keep in mind that may potentially prevent an overzealous prosecutor from building a case against you:

Take additional gun related training courses regarding the legality of justifiable shooting. It is preferable that you take these courses from police officers. Additionally, document range time and the courses youíve taken.

Do not load your weapon with oddball ammunition. Do not load your shotgun with flachettes. Do not use exploding or armor piercing rounds, whether they are legal or not. One common tactic (particularly in very non-gun-friendly areas) is to state that a person was acting maliciously because they loaded their gun with hollow points. The idea being that hollow points are more dangerous. This is easily refuted by getting police to testify that their departments issue hollow points. Do not load your weapon with any ammo that advertises hyper velocity or any other phrase that may make it appear that you intentionally bought ammo because it was exceptionally deadly.

Carry a stock gun. By stock gun, I mean a gun as it rolls off the assembly line. Do not lighten the trigger pull. Do not thread the barrel, add a compensator, or make other modifications to your carry gun. I would venture that the only safe modification would be night sights. Do not remove any safety features, such as magazine disconnect safeties.

Do not carry a single action arm in the cocked and locked position. Even though other gun folks know that a cocked & locked single action and a regular double action are functionally the same (i.e., pull the trigger and it shoots as opposed cocking a single action then shooting), an overzealous prosecutor may take issue stating that you had dangerous intent because you carried it cocked. Despite the fact that gun people know that you likely had to disengage a safety before pulling the trigger, the ignorant jury may not.

For your carry gun, Iíd recommend a double action pistol with a heavy double action pull.

Another good idea is to ask a local policeman what guns and ammo they are issued. If you carry the same gun that the police carry and the same ammo, it lends credibility to the fact that you are not acting maliciously (after all, police are not malicious). Most police departments carry Glocks and most police departments' ammo is .40 S&W.

Do not drink (even a little) and carry a weapon.

Finally, donít carry illegally. If you shoot someone in an area where you legally are not allowed to even carry a firearm, it presents problems. Even if you beat the murder rap, youíre still likely to be found guilty of another crime.

I hope that you find this information somewhat useful.

Posted by SayUncle