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Old February 5, 2009, 08:02 PM   #1
inSight-NEO
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"Tactically" equipped HD weapons: More "fuel" for imminent prosecution?

Im not sure if this thread will be considered as something falling within the category of "civil rights" or "law." However, I personally have always been very concerned with the thought of, should I ever need to use a weapon to defend my life or loved ones, how the prosecution and/or jury would react when viewing the weapon used for such an occasion.

Now, the majority of weapons I keep have no additional accessories that might be deemed "politically" incorrect. But, concerning my only 12g shotgun, this is not the case. Below is a pic of this shotgun (as currently outfitted) and needless to say, it does not look tame by any stretch IMHO.

Now, every accessory on this weapon has a practical reason for being on an HD shotgun. I wont go into explaining my reasons for each item. But, if you own a shotgun, Im sure you will get the gist. However....will a jury understand the "need" for such accessories? Or would I simply be seen as one of those "kill crazy" types with some sort of Rambo complex?

Keep in mind, Im not just speaking about a shotgun. This goes for ANY such equipped weapon which may be used for personal defense or home defense.

Any thoughts as to how one would deal with such an issue if placed on trial for homicide? To me, this is a very important question (as it should be for anyone using a weapon for PD/HD).




I apologize for the horrible quality. However, this pic is not for show. Its simply for reference.

Last edited by inSight-NEO; February 5, 2009 at 08:13 PM.
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Old February 5, 2009, 08:26 PM   #2
azredhawk44
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My feeling is... if someone needs killing, it won't matter to a jury if it was done with an AR-15, Uzi, 50 year old .38 revolver or a truncheon. Defense is defense.

Obviously the Fish situation from Arizona belies that, but that was a case of horrid defense counsel. Given the fact that the state legislature passed specific legislation in response to that particular case... I wouldn't take too much stock in its results (10mm being "too powerful" for self defense and hollowpoints are particularly evil).

The argument can be made with your light up front that you are very concerned about shooting someone (the wrong person) accidentally. If used to illuminate your target for positive identification, you can concretely say "I meant to shoot the man right there" and point to him in court (if alive).

Hard to argue the fact that a defendant WANTED to shoot the attacker and deliberately pulled the trigger... especially when his legal defense is self defense in the first place. Just re-affirms his case.
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Old February 5, 2009, 08:38 PM   #3
inSight-NEO
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Hard to argue the fact that a defendant WANTED to shoot the attacker and deliberately pulled the trigger... especially when his legal defense is self defense in the first place. Just re-affirms his case.
Concerning a jury, what would keep them from viewing this shotgun, or something similar, as a weapon simply outfitted for more efficient/effective killing? Might this possibly result in one being labeled as having a "premeditative" mentality vs a "tactical/practical" one? However, I see your point(s) and happen to agree. But, would they?

This situation seems ripe for ambiguity and that concerns me.
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Old February 5, 2009, 08:50 PM   #4
azredhawk44
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Concerning a jury, what would keep them from viewing this shotgun, or something similar, as a weapon simply outfitted for more efficient/effective killing?
Well there's efficient unrestrained killing... and there's efficient focused elimination of a threat. Via killing or disabling, depending on how the dice may roll.

Being efficient in eliminating a threat is arguably a good thing. And it comes down to the legal argument presented to the jury. Good things going for a ninja'ed out shotgun:
1. Light - positive ID of threatening target.
2. High capacity - (if the gun isn't empty) restraint in use of ammunition... only used what was necessary to make threat cease.
3. Tritium/night sights - positive alignment of weapon with target, giving precision so as to shield innocents from effects of weapon.
4. Folding/collapsing stock - Makes weapon less useful for long range engagement, indicating that the threat was truly imminent and nearby.

You can find the silver lining in a lot of tactical features.
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Old February 5, 2009, 08:55 PM   #5
inSight-NEO
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You can find the silver lining in a lot of tactical features.
I agree. Thank you for the input.
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Old February 6, 2009, 11:13 AM   #6
Technosavant
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You also have to figure that the circumstances are likely to matter more than the weapon/ammo itself. If you shoot some guy in your own home after dark and he had a rap sheet a mile long, then assuming you live in a sane area of the US, I can't imagine the weapon or ammo coming into play. Questions may be asked, but the circumstances of the shoot will override them.

Now, if you shoot the neighbor's eight year old in your backyard in the afternoon, then even using grandpa's old double barrel shotgun loaded with rock salt won't save your hide.
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Old February 6, 2009, 11:59 AM   #7
Erich
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Former prosecutor, longtime defense lawyer here.

First of all, I'm not able to see your photo on this machine and thus am commenting in general and not on your specific weapon.

It depends on who catches the case. Some cops are offended by "tactical" weapons, as are some prosecutors and grand jurors. The attitude of the cops and prosecutors involved in reviewing your shooting will certainly be reflected in the treatment that your case receives. Your appearance, the part of town in which you live, your connection to the person who was shot, the weapon that you used, your profession, your employment status, your attitude, and all the information about the person shot - these are all things that will be in the background when the state actors review your case and decide how to handle it. So will the overall political climate of your locale - this will also affect how the grand jury views your case after the shooting.

Your use of a "tactical" gun is not likely to affect a defensive shooting case in which Charles Manson bursts into your five-year-old's birthday party in the middle of the afternoon wielding an RPG and singing "Helter Skelter." But, in my considerable experience working on homicide cases, things are rarely so clear. Like Mas Ayoob advises regarding the use of handloads in defensive weapons, it behooves one to think before adding in another potentially detrimental variable.





I own EBR-type things, but my "house rifle" is a lovely walnut-stocked Navy Arms 92 short rifle levergun . . . a "cowboy gun." Concern over appearances played a part in my selecting that gun for that role, even though I'm in a fairly gun-friendly area and defensive shootings with AK-47s have been no-billed by local grand juries. You may come to a different conclusion, but you are wise to consider this issue in making your determination of what's right for you.

As far as "how to deal with the issue in a hypothetical homicide trial"? No one can answer that, as the relevant variables in play aren't yet before us. You are wise to have the ability to coherently and reasonably explain the need for any additions to your base gear and your rationale for selecting that base gear. You would be wise to be prepared with the contact information for a good criminal defense attorney (how to find this has been discussed here many times) in the event that - God forbid - you would ever need one.

Last edited by Erich; February 6, 2009 at 07:42 PM. Reason: To add photos, just for the heck of it. :)
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Old February 6, 2009, 12:42 PM   #8
Glenn E. Meyer
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Great post, Erich. The jury simulation research supports this view. Having a lawyer who is up on this particular issue would be very important to deal with such concerns bringing brought up at trial.
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Old February 6, 2009, 01:04 PM   #9
zukiphile
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Quote:
Former prosecutor, longtime defense lawyer here.
My practice is almost exclusively civil. I have to say that Erich's summary of this issue is the best balance of concise yet complete as I've ever read.

I wish I had written it.
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Old February 6, 2009, 03:39 PM   #10
Erich
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Thanks for the kind words, gents.
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Old February 6, 2009, 05:40 PM   #11
inSight-NEO
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Erich, thanks for your post. It hit many points and gave me much to consider. Its almost scary how any "ominous" looking weapon might become a turning point when on trial for defending ones life and/or loved ones. Im of the strong opinion that, even if a weapon is painted pink with flowers all over it, it is still just as capable of dealing death as any "tactical" weapon ever was.

I will list a few points regarding the "need" for the various additions to my shotgun. It would be interesting to hear your take on my explanations.

1) pistol grip stock- This offers greater control (IMHO) vs any standard stock and therefore, allows me to maintain better "command" over the weapon if fired. In addition, the PS stock just might allow for greater defense against a disarm attempt due to the stronger grip it affords.

2) weapon-mounted white light- First and foremost, this is used for identifying anything or anyone (and whether or not to engage) at night. Particularly where a long gun is concerned, manipulating a flashlight is not a practical consideration. Now, I will admit, using a weapon mounted light would probably necessitate the need to point a loaded firearm at an individual (for identification) which could certainly be considered a felony. However, there are many variables concerning this that I wont go into right now. But, since I started using the light, I have made up my mind to always leave the safety engaged until positive identification is made. This may add a few precious seconds to my reaction time, but I think this method/mindset is the most responsible.

3) mag tube extension- Well, this one is too obvious to comment on. However, without it I would not be able to mount my current light.

4) sidesaddle- Besides the obvious use for keeping extra ammo on the gun itself, this item is my way of dealing with Murphys Law. Its entirely possible that a weapon malfunction might lead to the inability to chamber a round (FTF), thus turning an effective HD weapon into nothing more than an intimidating club. The sidesaddle, when equipped with extra ammo, gives me the much needed ability to grab a round and directly load it into the chamber should such a failure occur (at the worst possible time).

So, taken as a whole, I see these accessories as simply allowing for a more effective/versatile HD weapon vs simply considering it as a more effective killing machine. Keep in mind, with all of this said, I believe using a weapon (for PD/HD) is not about killing but rather, stopping.

In closing, Ive also considered the "ominous" nature of my shotgun to be a positive thing. To me, this lets others know that this is a serious item and not a toy. I think that weapons which look less intimidating just might cause those less familiar with firearms to not take them quite as seriously. This could prove to be very dangerous.

Last edited by inSight-NEO; February 6, 2009 at 05:56 PM.
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Old February 6, 2009, 05:47 PM   #12
buzz_knox
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I will list a few points regarding the "need" for the various additions to my shotgun. It would be interesting to hear your take on my explanations.
If you have a rational explanation for a decision and can articulate it to the trier of fact, you are on your way to winning the battle. If a modification to a weapon improves your ability to effectively use it, without undermining its safety, and thereby reduce the danger to the innocent, and you can articulate how this advantage works, you are likely to have no issue. If a modification does not improve the reliability, accuracy, etc but does absolutely nothing to undermine the safe use of the weapon (such as cosmetic changes) nor give a negative view of you (i.e. no "Kill them all for God will know His own" slogans) you should also have no issue if you can explain the matter.

If something can't be explained in the above matter, you should reconsider whether you want to have that associated with you.

If you are already at the point that you can provide your explanations, you are good to go.
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Old February 6, 2009, 05:48 PM   #13
buzz_knox
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3) mag tube extension- Well, this one is too obvious to comment on.
Just wanted to follow up on this. It's not too obvious, as many people cannot fathom why you'd want more than a couple shots. On this board, high capacity versus lower capacity is the subject of many (and often heated) discussions. How much worse could it be with a group who are less gun savvy?
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Old February 6, 2009, 06:06 PM   #14
inSight-NEO
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It's not too obvious, as many people cannot fathom why you'd want more than a couple shots. On this board, high capacity versus lower capacity is the subject of many (and often heated) discussions. How much worse could it be with a group who are less gun savvy?
Good point. I will (or would, as the case may be) expand on my original point by offering this:

Given the many negative effects a violent HD encounter can have on ones coordination, sight, sense of touch, stress levels, etc., its entirely possible (speaking specifically of the shotgun) to "accidentally" eject an unfired round...maybe more. Lets not forget possible misfires due to ammo issues. Since I only keep 4 rounds in the tube (even though the capacity is 6), this could prove quite disastrous. After all, not every HD scenario involves just one person.

Also, as has been documented, even when concerning a 12g, not all direct "hits" are effective enough to stop a violent (possibly doped up) individual or individuals from inflicting harm. The extra rounds add leverage just for such a situation. In addition, if one only has, lets say, 3 rounds in the mag tube at his/her disposal then he/she only has 3 chances to get the job done. After that, the advantage goes the wrong way. Even with a shotgun, its entirely possible to make a critical miss.


As a side note: I do think that the need for extra ammo capacity, when speaking of shotguns, is fairly easy to justify. Now, when dealing with semi-auto pistols, it may not be so cut and dry.

Last edited by inSight-NEO; February 6, 2009 at 06:38 PM.
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