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Old September 20, 2000, 01:39 PM   #26
Mikul
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I found an interesting article on exactly this topic.
http://www.plusp.com/lesson22.html

It is time to put to rest the gun magazine nonsense about what guns or ammunition you use in self-defense. If you shoot someone the concern will be the legality of the shooting, not the weapons or ammunition used. In the past some lawyers have tried to go down that road and had their legal head handed to them on a platter. Nobody in the legal community would go down this road in the 1990's.

Gun rags had constantly warned of the legal concerns of hand loading ammunition. What is interesting is that they fail to mention ONE documented case where it was a primary issue. Let us assume there is concern that the ammo you used was hyper-velocity in nature. Loaded to the max. Loaded to the edges of safety. Then you use this to shoot someone in self-defense. If the shooting is legal and found to be so, the matter is over. That is the END.

Civil is another animal. However we come back to the issue of legality. In most cases where no charges are filed or you are found innocent, it becomes difficult to make much progress in civil court. In fact, you find that 80% or more of all civil cases never reach court after the original filing. Most will be dismissed, or settled prior to court. Any "expert" that claims any knowledge about court proceedings will know this. In settlement papers both parties almost always wrap it up with no blame or negligence admitted by either side.

Having investigated murders and having been involved in hundreds of shooting cases, I have never once seen any concern expressed over the ammunition or gun used. In fact, the gun and ammunition found at the scene are seldom examined in detail by anyone even when the case goes the civil route. Lawyers are concerned with the LEGALITY of the situation, not the hardware.

Stop and use some common sense. If hardware were an issue, wouldn't the shotgun be the ultimate legal nightmare for a shooter? No other weapon has the massive destructive power of a shotgun. No handgun even comes close. In fact, the lethality rate for a shotgun is 67% vs. 14% for a pistol and 17% for a rifle like an AK-47. If we are talking destructive power, and looking at tissue damage, the shotgun would be a constant source of review by lawyers. It is not.

Years ago we had a shooting where the homeowner used a .36 caliber black powder revolver. The homeowner pushed it into the thug's chest and fired. The blast of burning black powder went directly into the thug's chest. Opened at the morgue the inside of his chest was a black mushy mess. The burning black powder and blast did incredible damage. Should there be some damages paid for a shooter using black powder vs. smokeless?

Also the burden to PROVE that the ammunition you used was excessive would fall with the complainant's lawyers. What is excessive? If your life is in danger that argument doesn't hold much concern for the shooter. You want the most effective cartridge you can use. I'd think the other lawyers should be glad you used a pistol and not a shotgun or larger bore rifle?

Finding cases where anyone took a serious look at the gun or ammunition used is hard to come by and few try it. If the gun is defective that may be an issue. I was involved in a case where an officer killed a motorist and the officer used a gun I had examined prior to the shooting. He had it nickel plated and that included internal parts. If you pulled the hammer back and shook the gun it would discharge. I told him it was unsafe, but he carried it anyway and the shooting followed a few weeks later.

The gun did become an issue as having a "hair" trigger. But the Grand Jury cleared the officer and the following civil suit was settled for $400,000 and the issue in depositions was the LEGALITY. The gun was never mentioned again. The payment was made without comment by either side. In the late 1960's as police moved to hollow points and ammunition like Super-Vel came on line, the issue started to show up in court. I recall one silly lawyer trying to bring the Geneva Convention into the argument. It fell flat and the lawyer lost the case big time.

Defective guns are a whole other issue and will almost always come up in product liability actions, not civil actions for an actual self-defense shooting. It is funny to see gun rag writers that boast of their highly modified guns and then flip-flop to claiming any modification is serious legal problems. I have seen self-defense shootings and cases with strange weapons. One shooter used a .22 rifle that fired when you slammed the pump action home. The trigger didn't work. It was never brought up in the criminal trial and no civil charges ever filed. The shooter was cleared.

The Internet now allows us to search all the states court opinions using keyword. If you want to get bored try surfing those legal libraries and find ONE case where the choice of gun or ammunition resulted in any legal perils or one dime being awarded in damages.

It is time for the gun rag writers post the actual case titles so they can be researched and stop with vague, "trust me" logic. It seems they take pride in trying to insinuate they hold super secret key information that you should pay them to reveal.

As a court approved expert witness we aid lawyers in doing legal research on the cases at hand. We have a segment of our company that can do this legal research and aid in case strategy with the lawyer.

I recall on CBS's 48 Hours a segment on a fellow who shot a thug with a shotgun. Using actual courtroom video the gun they showed was a well tricked out Mossberg 500. The subject of even a shotgun being used was never mentioned. It didn't matter. They had to deal with legality, not emotions.

The decision of which gun or ammunition you will chose for self-defense is YOURS. It is not a serious concern for legal issues. As we tell students, if you buy it off the shelf worry not. If you hand load you will find that few hand loaders would try to exceed factory specs as adopted by ammunition manufacturers. Few shooters want to beat up a gun for a few extra feet per-second. There are some idiots out their, but their guns will probably fall apart before they use it for self-defense.

Ask yourself, what you could reload that would be of concern. How fast can you push a 115-grain slug in a 9mm pistol beyond factory +P+ specs? You won't get much further if you value your gun and shooting hand. As for bullets, do we invent our own? No, we shoot bullets made by someone else or those we can cast from lead. How fast can you push even hard cast slugs? Not much beyond factory specs again. Bullet design? Not much we can do to alter what we buy or make ourselves.

Granted, you may find out a nut case or two but those extremes do not effect us. Next time you see someone boast of the perils of your gun or ammunition you chose for self-defense ask for some actual case law on the subject. At best it may be brought up or mentioned, but it is a bad way to go for any lawyer, as the defense for it is as simple as a rock. I would like to think the opposition would bring up the subject. It would be to my clients favor.

In one case presently in litigation against a major discount chain store the argument is if the store sold handgun ammunition to an underage person, which resulted in a fatal accidental shooting. To date nobody has seen the gun or ammunition since police took it from the shooting scene. The case is near court and nobody is concerned if the gun was defective. The legal focus is the sale of the ammunition. Once again the gun/ammo boogieman just doesn't surface.

Here is what is involved to review a case history. You need ALL of the paper work. Testimony can cover thousands of pages. If you want a copy you pay for it. That can run from several hundred to several thousand dollars. Just right there you can see why the armchair experts have a problem documenting much of anything.

A summons and complaint filed in a civil case may mention the gun or ammunition used. That is a poor legal move, but it can happen. That is NOT evidence, only a complaint and will be addressed in court or depositions, or it won't every show up. Complaints contain a lot of superfluous information and comments.

Also for such information to impact a jury it will have to impact ALL of the jurors to be very effective. If you were a lawyer would you be trying to convince them that John Doe's hand loads were bad or that he acted in an illegal manner?

The gun and ammunition concerns are the least of your concerns. You have to worry about the legality of your actions.

If bullet choice is that important then we would think the gun rag writers would endorse Full Metal Jacketed bullets. Would they be safer? On the other hand, they pimp themselves trying to sell the most effective bullets they can endorse like Corbon or Triton? Can they have it both ways? We think NOT. When pressed to tell us which bullet choices are bad they fall pretty flat real fast.

About modified guns? To date I have not seen ONE gun rag writer claim that any one gun is the safest for legal concerns. In fact, if glass broke late in the night at their home and the only gun handy to them was a fully tricked IPSC gun, I doubt if they'd respond to the threat with a baseball bat our of fears of legality or liability for using their IPSC gun.

The reality just doesn't make good press or sell magazines or ammunition.

[This message has been edited by Mikul (edited September 20, 2000).]
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Old September 21, 2000, 08:26 AM   #27
WESHOOT2
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One of the reasons I became a Federally licensed manufacturer.

If you think handloads are okay you go boy, but I bet if you ever use them you'll wish you'd tried mine instead...LOL.

Civil, not criminal, is where your difficulties will occur.
Not B.S.

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Old September 22, 2000, 06:04 AM   #28
Clark
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"How fast can you push a 115-grain slug in a 9mm pistol beyond factory +P+ specs? You won't get much further if you value your gun and shooting hand."

OK, if there is such a thing as +P+ specs.

I have Hinterberger +P+ 9mm ammo 1275 fps 100 gr 3" barrel. It is not in the same league with how fast I can push a 115 gr JHP Win bullet.

Is twice the kinetic energy further enough?
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Old September 22, 2000, 08:54 PM   #29
WESHOOT2
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I have fired countless "Major 9" rounds through two EAA Witnesses, one completely stock.

I have both hands.

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"All my ammo is factory ammo"

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Old September 24, 2000, 01:16 AM   #30
Cheapo
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There is no "nice" way to shoot someone. If lethal force is needed, using some super-lethal vampire killer bullet will not matter.

Any decent attorney and probably half of us shooters could put together a nice series of trial questions which would illustrate how absurd it is to demonize someone for their choice of ammunition.

And guess what juries do to attorneys (and their clients) who harp on absurd ideas?

I vote for urban myth.

A firearm is but one *type* of "arm." Arms are but one classification of ways to apply lethal force. Ammo choice would become relevant only for premeditated murder.
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Old September 24, 2000, 07:17 AM   #31
Yanus
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I agree with Cheapo. Hell, just use a meat cleaver between the eyes! Of course, PETA might not be too happy, but what the hell, you can't have everything. I think the only projectile that might cause you a legal problem would be an exploding bullet, or maybe one containing cynanide.

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Old September 24, 2000, 02:18 PM   #32
johnwill
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<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by WESHOOT2:
I have fired countless "Major 9" rounds through two EAA Witnesses, one completely stock.

I have both hands.
[/quote]

Lucky too, right?


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Old September 24, 2000, 06:21 PM   #33
Clark
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"Lucky too, right? "

I have data that leads me to believe that he has a large safety factor. Not with respect to SAAMI, but with respect to his gun, standard primers or new RP brass failing.

Lucky? Better described as out of the shadow of fear and ignorance.

Loads designed for the gun, not all the different guns ever made in 100 years of that caliber.
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Old September 26, 2000, 01:20 AM   #34
Big Bunny
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We recently had oversize problems with new factory Winchester 40S&W ...they jammed a Glock used for LEO use.
At least my handloads are properly sized!

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Never knock another's different shooting interest or discipline...REMEMBER we are all but leaves on the same tree of freedom.
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Old September 26, 2000, 04:45 PM   #35
WESHOOT2
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Clark (and others),


Thank you. I like being lucky.

Only had one "incident" since 1976 (sent a 300g bullet out at 1800+fps), but absolutely no concern with going into the Gray Area.....

Not all ammo needs to go fast, though.

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