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Old September 15, 2012, 11:23 AM   #76
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Does the thought of having to explain your ammo choice to a juror affect your decision?
No, not at all , if someone was intent on killing me what ammo I used in self defense should not be an issue.

In my old home town (Jacksonville NC) earlier this year some thugs had their home invasion career cut short when the residents returned and shot them both dead. The matter of ammo used was never mentioned and law enforcement said the shooting was justified. The residents were also active duty Marines.
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Old September 15, 2012, 11:42 AM   #77
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"If you used handloads, your expert probably wouldn't even get to testify, and certainly not as you suggest."
I believe this opinion is wrong. My opinion is that most trial judges would allow significant leeway on this issue if only to prevent a reversal on appeal. My experience is that trial judges in criminal cases will give more, not less, latitude on expert testimony on behalf of a defendant. As far as I know, there has been only one case where the trial judge, wrongly in my opinion, would not allow expert testimony on the issue in question. I don't believe the 10mm testimony being more "powerful" should have been allowed. Do you recommend that no one carry a 10mm? Are there any other cases other than the single case (Bias I believe)? I don't believe there are any appellate cases on this issue. Do you recommend that no one reload due to the fact that there are more accidental shootings than self-defense shootings, and that you are up the creek if you use reloads because accident do happen, more often?
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Old September 15, 2012, 11:45 AM   #78
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Defense ammo seems to be made to a higher standard, therefore less likely to fail...

Crap ammo isn't a huge deal at the range when your life isn't on the line.
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Old September 15, 2012, 11:46 AM   #79
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We really need to stifle this "a good shoot is a good shoot" business.

You will not have the final say on whether or not your use of lethal force was justified. Other people will be deciding that. So if you think you were justified but the DA and/or grand jury disagree, it's not a "good shoot" unless your trial jury decides that it was. See, for example --

On this we agree. But, IMHO, the decision to CCW and the consequences that could arise from that decision is more important than what kind of ammo one uses. One needs to know from day one that if the need to use deadly force ever comes up, it will be a rough row to hoe for many years. The decision to take a life as opposed to losing yours, seems to be simple. Thanks to greedy lawyers and bleeding hearts it is not, and unfortunately for us law abiding citizens, the Bad Guys still have the advantage, even when they're dead.

Good examples given Frank of what can happen, even when one uses deadly force appropriately, but none of the final decisions made in any of those cases was based on ammo type. I assume one could find thousands of cases where innocent folks were wrongly accused and exonerated in the end after years of grief and tons of money spent on defense. I bet tho, in any of them, whether the ammo was store bought or legal handloads made any difference. Oh I know, could happen, might happen, always the first time. While I agree and accept the fact that if the need ever arises for me to use deadly force, that my butt will be in a wringer for years to come, I have very little fear that my use of handloads will have any bearing on the outcome of whether the shoot was good or bad. Right or wrong it is the choice I have made and I will live with the consequences.
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Old September 15, 2012, 11:54 AM   #80
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Quote:
We really need to stifle this "a good shoot is a good shoot" business.
Your example actually proves a point. Even though these people were charged and suffered arrest, jail, lost of money and property, in the end they were either acquitted or had charges dismissed. The opposite end of this would be if they were found guilty or did not live to tell their story.

Quote:
If handloads were fired in the event, the only evidence of the characteristics of those rounds must come from the defendant, an extremely interested party. And therefore the only way the rounds fired could be connected with any exemplars used for testing would be through the defendant, an extremely interested party. The claim that the exemplars tested matched the round fired in the event is therefore suspect and inadequate to establish an acceptable foundation for the admission into evidence of expert opinion testimony based on the testing of those exemplars. There would be no independent verification that what was tested was anything like what was used in the event.
If the defendant in your eyes is always suspect then anything they state under oath would be look upon as having no merit. That takes away your right to testify on your own defense. The court system must be so messed up that we are unable to present our side of the story.
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Old September 15, 2012, 12:12 PM   #81
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I think a lot of people here are focusing on a criminal trial, rather than a civil trial.

The argument that "if lethal force was justified, it won't matter what kind of ammo I was using" is probably pretty valid for a criminal prosecution. If you are justfied in using deadly force, then it's not going to matter whether you killed them a little bit or a whole lot. Dead is dead.

Where I can see ammo choice coming into play is in a civil lawsuit. Specifically - if one of your rounds misses the bad guy but hits a bystander, or goes through the bad guy. Or in a wrongful death suit.

The burden of proof is much lower in a civil wrongful death suit, and there is also the concept of joint and several liability, in which you can be found partially at fault. So suppose the bad guy was found to be 70% at fault for his own death, but you are found to be 30% at fault. They are suing you for 10 million. So now you only have to pay 3 million, not all 10 of it.

That's where a lawyer might try to come up with a "the defendant used the most deadly ammo he could find, and even created his own special blend" sort of thing.

If you have never served jury duty, I strongly recommend it. You'd be surprised how many people have pre-conceived ideas about things, and how a lawyer can plant ideas in their heads. Turns out that a "jury of your peers" is composed of 12 people who weren't smart enough to get out of jury duty. Some of them will fall for that "he used extra-deadly hollow point ammunition that should only be reserved for professionally trained police officers".

So don't worry so much about jail time. Worry about losing your house and everything else you own due to a civil verdict.
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Old September 15, 2012, 12:15 PM   #82
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Old September 15, 2012, 01:05 PM   #83
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Quote:
I think a lot of people here are focusing on a criminal trial, rather than a civil trial.


Specifically - if one of your rounds misses the bad guy but hits a bystander, or goes through the bad guy.

Here is Wisconsin, if the SD shoot is deemed "good", there will be no civil suit. They may have been slow at giving us the right to CWC, but they got it right when they did. If in the process of SD, one hits an innocent bystander, it is not going to be a "good" shoot no matter what the ammo. Odds are, being a civilian, you will get hit with a nasty civil suit along with a criminal conviction regardless of how many BGs you took out or how many other lives you saved. Again thanks to greedy lawyers and bleeding hearts. The decision to pull one's firearm and shoot should not be taken lightly and other options always need to be thought out. Knowing your target and beyond is one of the basic rules of gun safety. Personal protection does not exclude this. Shoot a innocent bystander while protecting yourself and expect to be punished.....and rightfully so. This is a no brainer and again, has nothing at all to do with ammo choice.
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Old September 15, 2012, 01:18 PM   #84
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Quote:
Originally Posted by buck460XVR
. . . .and ol' Spats can come visit me and say I told you so.
Lol! May it never come to that, my friend.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Marquezj16
. . . .Your example actually proves a point. Even though these people were charged and suffered arrest, jail, lost of money and property, in the end they were either acquitted or had charges dismissed. The opposite end of this would be if they were found guilty or did not live to tell their story.
Part of the problem is that for some of those folks, acquittal could have come much earlier. I'll have to look over the list that Frank provided, but it's not an all-or-nothing game at the first trial. Even if the defendant is acquitted, it's expensive. If the defendant is convicted, then there's a possible appeal. If the defendant wins the appeal, he may get retried. I'd just as soon avoid an issue that could turn one trial into 2 or 3.
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Old September 15, 2012, 01:18 PM   #85
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jmortimer
"If you used handloads, your expert probably wouldn't even get to testify, and certainly not as you suggest."
I believe this opinion is wrong. My opinion is that most trial judges would allow significant leeway on this issue...As far as I know, there has been only one case where the trial judge, wrongly in my opinion, would not allow expert testimony on the issue in question....
Can you cite a case in which a judge allowed expert opinion testimony for the defense based on exemplar testing of handloaded ammunition? Can you cite a case in which expert opinion testimony for the defense based on exemplar testing of anything that could be connected with the subject matter of the case solely by the testimony of the defendant?

Quote:
Originally Posted by buck460XVR
...Good examples given Frank of what can happen, even when one uses deadly force appropriately, but none of the final decisions made in any of those cases was based on ammo type. I assume one could find thousands of cases where innocent folks were wrongly accused and exonerated in the end after years of grief and tons of money spent on defense. I bet tho, in any of them, whether the ammo was store bought or legal handloads made any difference....
But point of the examples is that a good shoot is not necessarily a good shoot -- at least until a jury says so. One can not simply dismiss the possibility that if he needs to use his gun in self defense he will not later have to convincingly show that he was justified. And at that point, possible "wild cards", like JHP ammunition in the Fish case, could make it more difficult.

And indeed, Marty Hayes, in his analysis of the Hickey case, to which I linked, pointed out that Hickey's defense was made more difficult because of the lack of gunshot residue samples (at pg 20):
Quote:
....There was considerable difficulty conclusively establishing the assailant’s exact location because gunshot residue swabs were not taken, nor were stippling patterns recorded from the abdomen of the male, exculpatory evidence that could have scientifically proven how close the attackers were when Hickey fired. Instead, the lack of evidence created a situation in which Hickey’s sole testimony had to be weighed against the stories of all three attackers....
Quote:
Originally Posted by Marquezj16
...If the defendant in your eyes is always suspect then anything they state under oath would be look upon as having no merit. That takes away your right to testify on your own defense. The court system must be so messed up that we are unable to present our side of the story.
It has nothing to do with the court system. It's just a simple fact of life that the uncorroborated testimony of an interested party will always be viewed with some skepticism.
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Last edited by Frank Ettin; September 15, 2012 at 02:04 PM.
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Old September 15, 2012, 01:35 PM   #86
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Quote:
Originally Posted by buck460XVR
. . . .IMHO, the decision to CCW and the consequences that could arise from that decision is more important than what kind of ammo one uses. One needs to know from day one that if the need to use deadly force ever comes up, it will be a rough row to hoe for many years. . . . .
Well said, and mostly. Handloads v. factory loads is but one of many decisions that we make in the CCW arena. We all make ammo choices in CCW/SD/HD. I suspect that for most people, the risks associated with carrying handloads (a) are of a lower risk; and (b) are less well understood. For someone that lives in an apartment, the risks of using an AR-15 with FMJ is obvious: neighbors. Most folks simply don't have a lot of experience with the courts and expert testimony.

The other thing that makes the legal analysis of this issue so difficult is the particular sequence of events that must happen for a handload/sd case to come to light. To go up on appeal and make good, useful caselaw, the sequence goes something like this:
  1. There has to be a shooting;
  2. In which handloads were used;
  3. And the distance of the shooting is disputed;
  4. And GSR evidence has to be useful in resolving that dispute;
  5. And the case has to go up on appeal (which usually means the shooter/defendant loses at trial)
  6. And the admissibility of the GSR evidence/handloads really needs to be one of the points on appeal
  7. AND the case has to get a written opinion explaining the court's reasoning.

Alternatively, the expert witnesses could write an article about the case. While that's much, much simpler, it provides an explanation but no precedent.
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Old September 15, 2012, 01:54 PM   #87
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"Originally Posted by jmortimer
...Good examples given Frank .."

No, not my post. Setting aside your animus, none of the cases you cite have anything to do with ammunition except Fish and the too "powerful" 10mm. Again, I ask, do you recommend that no one use a 10mm, .44 mag etc, for self-defense? We know for sure that can get you in trouble for using "too much gun." Also, do you agree that no one should even chamber a reload as someone might get shot, even by accident, and even accidents will be investigated? As was pointed out, all of the cases you cited were good shoots and all shooters have been exonerated. Also, the much discussed Hickey case, stands for the proposition that taking firearms training, e.g. Gunsite etc, can for sure get you in trouble. Do you recommend that one should avoid training classes like Mr. Hickey took, because it got him in a whole lot of trouble, and he had to have expert witness testimony in order to convince two juries that he was not some highly trained whacked out killer? His attorney/experts never convinced both juries to the point that he was found innocent, both juries were hung. The more I study this issue, the more I'm convinced that the least of your worries is what ammunition you use unless it is "too powerful," and that advanced firearms training can and will be used against you. I am fully convinced that the best course of action is to use exactly what the local police use, guns and ammo, and if they change, you change. Don't reload, and don't take a lot of advance firearms training. I would also avoid IDPA, Three Gun, etc. And in the end, a good shoot is a good shoot.

Last edited by jmortimer; September 15, 2012 at 02:00 PM.
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Old September 15, 2012, 02:37 PM   #88
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jmortimer
"Originally Posted by jmortimer
...Good examples given Frank .."
No, not my post....
Correct. My apologies. I've fixed it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jmortimer
...Setting aside your animus, none of the cases you cite have anything to do with ammunition except Fish and the too "powerful" 10mm. ...
[1] What animus?

[2] But you might want to study up a bit on Fish. In Fish there were two ammunition related factors: the using a 10mm; and using JHPs.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jmortimer
...As was pointed out, all of the cases you cited were good shoots and all shooters have been exonerated...
Only after considerable grief, expense and stress. And the point, as I've stated before is that:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Frank Ettin
...a good shoot is not necessarily a good shoot -- at least until a jury says so. One can not simply dismiss the possibility that if he needs to use his gun in self defense he will not later have to convincingly show that he was justified. And at that point, possible "wild cards", like JHP ammunition in the Fish case, could make it more difficult....
Quote:
Originally Posted by jmortimer
...Again, I ask, do you recommend that no one use a 10mm,...The more I study this issue, the more I'm convinced that the least of your worries is what ammunition you use unless it is "too powerful," and that advanced firearms training can and will be used against you. ...Don't reload, and don't take a lot of advance firearms training. I would also avoid IDPA, Three Gun, etc. And in the end, a good shoot is a good shoot....
I make no recommendations. As I've written many times before:

[1] Lawyers will use whatever is available to use to further the interests of their clients, consistent with the rules of law, evidence and procedure, and consistent with what they actually have to work with. The prosecutor's client is the State, and if he is prosecuting you for an act of violence against another human which you claim was in self defense, he will use whatever is available to further the State's interesting in getting you convicted.

[2] If I am preparing for the possible eventuality of being the defendant in a criminal or civil case arising from my use of force in self defense, I can make some decisions ahead of time. I can make those decisions based on an assessment of the risks compared with the utility of certain conduct. That's call risk management. The point is to lay as strong a foundation for my defense as possible, while preserving my ability to accomplish my purpose. I want to stack the deck in my favor as much as I can.

[3] So --
  • I use quality, JHP ammunition of the sort commonly used by law enforcement agencies. This could be used against me in court, but I have decided that the risk is warranted because of the generally superior terminal performance of such ammunition. Therefore, I am prepared to meet attacks on my use of such ammunition.


  • I have sought out training, and I practice. I recognize that these things can be used against me in court, but I have concluded that by being trained I have a better chance to prevail in an emergency. So I have prepared to deal with attacks on my training.


  • Using a heavily modified gun could be used against me. Furthermore, I have trained and practiced sufficiently to be effective with a stock gun. So I have no good reason to use a heavily modified gun and take any risks on that account.


  • I gain no material advantage on the street using handloaded ammunition instead of good commercial ammunition. Therefore, I see no reason to take any risks, even if remote, by using handloaded ammunition.
That's what I do. You can do as you wish.
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Old September 15, 2012, 02:46 PM   #89
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I can agree with all that. My point, and I don't think you disagree, is that many things one might do, can and will be used against you: powerful ammunition, expanding bullets, training, firearms modifications, reloads...In the end, any time you pull the trigger, your life can become a great big hassle. A good shoot may be a good shoot but it still may be one gigantic headache.
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Old September 15, 2012, 03:03 PM   #90
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Quote:
...a good shoot is not necessarily a good shoot -- at least until a jury says so.
Not all go to trial...some are not charged based on evidence presented to DA.
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Old September 15, 2012, 03:10 PM   #91
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In my light J-frame I carry my own cast bullets (lee mold) with a dash of tightgroup. It's not very powerful but it's the most accurate load I've shot and the recoil is low too.
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Old September 15, 2012, 03:26 PM   #92
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40 cal hydra shok.
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Old September 15, 2012, 03:27 PM   #93
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Marquezj16
Not all go to trial...some are not charged based on evidence presented to DA.
True, but you don't know ahead of time whether your particular nasty incident, if it ever happens, will be such that it is nicely and neatly resolved in your favor with a minimum of fuss, or will turn into a giant hairball. And as noted previously, significant legal complications can arise even in gun friendly States with Castle Doctrine laws.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jmortimer
...My point, and I don't think you disagree, is that many things one might do, can and will be used against you: powerful ammunition, expanding bullets, training, firearms modifications, reloads...In the end, any time you pull the trigger, your life can become a great big hassle...
I agree, but there are some choices one can make ahead of time that can possibly reduce some of the hassle.
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Old September 15, 2012, 03:35 PM   #94
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Quote:
True, but you don't know ahead of time whether your particular nasty incident, if it ever happens, will be such that it is nicely and neatly resolved in your favor with a minimum of fuss, or will turn into a giant hairball.
You are right about not knowing how it will turn out. So many factors out there. But I was pointing out that your statement was false.

Quote:
I agree, but there are some choices one can make ahead of time that can possibly reduce some of the hassle.
This I can agree with and I make choices based on what I think would prevent me from being a victim of a crime.
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Old September 15, 2012, 03:36 PM   #95
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jmortimer
. . . . many things one might do, can and will be used against you: powerful ammunition, expanding bullets, training, firearms modifications, reloads...In the end, any time you pull the trigger, your life can become a great big hassle. A good shoot may be a good shoot but it still may be one gigantic headache.
True. Gun issues (caliber & modifications) may present image problems, but at least the gun is still available for testing. Reloads present a unique problem, though, in terms of evidence.
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Old September 15, 2012, 03:47 PM   #96
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" Reloads present a unique problem, though, in terms of evidence."
No, not true, all of the issues referenced present "unique evidentiary problems" - all of them. Just read the link to the Hickey case, the fact that Mr. Hickey had advanced firearms training bit him in the arse big time.
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Old September 15, 2012, 04:13 PM   #97
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Marquezj16
Quote:
True, but you don't know ahead of time whether your particular nasty incident, if it ever happens, will be such that it is nicely and neatly resolved in your favor with a minimum of fuss, or will turn into a giant hairball.
You are right about not knowing how it will turn out. So many factors out there. But I was pointing out that your statement was false.
But my statement wasn't false, especially when all my statements on the issue are read in their entirety and in context. My statement in post 75 was:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Frank Ettin
...You will not have the final say on whether or not your use of lethal force was justified. Other people will be deciding that. So if you think you were justified but the DA and/or grand jury disagree, it's not a "good shoot" unless your trial jury decides that it was...
And my statement in post 85 was (emphasis added):
Quote:
Originally Posted by Frank Ettin
...But point of the examples is that a good shoot is not necessarily a good shoot -- at least until a jury says so. One can not simply dismiss the possibility that if he needs to use his gun in self defense he will not later have to convincingly show that he was justified....
Note the use of the qualifiers, "necessarily" and "possibility."

You're really grasping at straws if you need to quote others incompletely and out of context to support your position.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Marquezj16
...This I can agree with and I make choices based on what I think would prevent me from being a victim of a crime...
As do I. And I try to take it a step further by also making choices that might help me better survive the legal aftermath of a necessary defensive use of force.
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Old September 15, 2012, 04:19 PM   #98
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jmortimer
Quote:
Originally Posted by Spats McGee
" Reloads present a unique problem, though, in terms of evidence."
No, not true, all of the issues referenced present "unique evidentiary problems" - all of them. Just read the link to the Hickey case, the fact that Mr. Hickey had advanced firearms training bit him in the arse big time.
As far as uniqueness goes, what other piece of evidence in an SD shooting would you expect to deal with using exemplar evidence where (1) the original piece of evidence has been destroyed in the shooting, and (2) the only evidence as to the composition of that piece of evidence can only come from the defendant? Not training. Not gun mods. Not caliber choice.

I've read the materials on Hickey, though it's been a while. Training can be explained by the defendant, who will likely have to testify to assert SD. Some gun mods can be explained satisfactorily, and the gun will still be available for testing. (Unless someone has the incredibly bad luck to have a kaboom at the very moment that he's involved in an SD shooting). Evidence of all of those things can be introduced without the shooter/defendant taking the stand, and by persons other than the shooter. And nobody has more incentive to lie than a shooter facing a murder charge.

I have never claimed that reloads were the only problem a defendant could face. However, just because there's lots of other stuff that can cause a defendant problems doesn't make reloads a good idea. It just doesn't hold water, logically, to claim: "Excessive training can get you in trouble. Therefore, there's no risk in using handloads."
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Old September 15, 2012, 04:28 PM   #99
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Spats McGee
As far as uniqueness goes, what other piece of evidence in an SD shooting would you expect to deal with using exemplar evidence where (1) the original piece of evidence has been destroyed in the shooting, and (2) the only evidence as to the composition of that piece of evidence can only come from the defendant? Not training. Not gun mods. Not caliber choice....
Agreed. The unique evidentiary issue arises with handloads when expert opinion based on exemplar testing would be beneficial to the defense. The problem is then one of getting the expert testimony to the jury.

With the other issues, training, etc., the evidentiary issues will be around effectively presenting an explanation that will be intelligible and acceptable to a jury made up largely or entirely of people who don't know anything about guns and who have no interest in guns.
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Old September 15, 2012, 04:36 PM   #100
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What do I use?

Long-time established .38 Special 158-grain semiwadcutters, no hollow points, various retailers.

-or-

Long-time established Remington 9mm JHP 115-grain L9MM1.


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