What are the legal ramifications of gun mods?

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What are the legal ramifications of gun mods?

Postby Tangle » Tue Oct 11, 2005 5:50 pm

Here's what I've run into. I bought a Beretta 92G Vertec from Langdon Tactical Technologies. I told him I wanted a carry trigger job. That basically smoothes the trigger and lightens it a bit, and limits over travel.

Now it occurs to me that this could have legal implications if it's used as a carry gun. So if I had to use this gun in a justified self-defense, is the trigger work going to be a legal issue?
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Postby johnharris » Wed Oct 12, 2005 4:12 pm

The question raises several issues.

First, keep in mind that many modifications make a firearm safer or address minor manufacturing flaws (e.g., a trigger that is not smooth) or merely accelerate the firearm to a state that normal use would have created over time.

Second, in the context of Tennessee's criminal law, the issue is whether deadly force was justifiable, if it was the evidence of the modifications should not be an issue.

If, however, it is a case of criminal recklessness or negligence (not self defense), then perhaps the fact that the firearm was modified might be an issue if the modifications allowed the firearm to be discharged when an unmodified firearm would not. Thus, weapons modified for competitive use with very light triggers would be a possible concern on the street.

Third, we must also consider how this issue might play out in a civil trial of negligence, recklessness or even excessive force. Here the issue is whether a "reasonable person" would have acted under similar circumstances (e.g., the carrying of a firearm - perhaps a known dangerous instrumentality) if the person knew or should have know of the characteristics of the modifications. The basic inquiry is whether the firearm was safe (e.g., compare a lawsuit about a car with bald tires or one involving towing too large of a trailer) and whether is was being transported in a safe manner.

Me, I tend to stick with the factory mechanics, a little fine tuning by a professional gun smith is ok, commercial grips and maybe even new sights.
John Harris

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Tennessee Firearms Association, Inc.
Attorney
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Postby Tangle » Wed Oct 12, 2005 5:04 pm

Thanks John,

My Beretta was, "tuned" by Ernst Langdon, a recognized "tuner". The DA trigger pull is still around the 8-9 pound mark and SAs around the 5# mark.
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Postby The Rabbi » Tue Mar 28, 2006 10:15 pm

I wonder if gun modification has ever been a factor in a trial involving self defense. I would bet money the answer is no.
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Postby Tangle » Wed Mar 29, 2006 6:52 am

The Rabbi wrote:I wonder if gun modification has ever been a factor in a trial involving self defense. I would bet money the answer is no.

That's what I'm thinkin' too. I have read of a few cases where gun mods came up and the case had a "bad" ending, but there were so many other considerations in each case that I don't think the gun mods really mattered one way or the other.
Last edited by Tangle on Thu Mar 30, 2006 7:15 am, edited 1 time in total.
Things fail, plans fail, people fail; fear never fails; it must be defeated.
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Postby The Rabbi » Wed Mar 29, 2006 10:24 am

Sure, unless the modification was just unsafe to begin with, in which case it becomes negligence.
Most mods are done to improve control, and who can argue with that?
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