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Old May 29, 2017, 07:19 PM   #1
Bluecthomas
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Malfunction full auto, legal liability

Obviously, if your gun malfunctions in any way, stop shooting immediately until fixed.

But let's say it goes full auto at the range with an uptight leo watching.
Is that automatic felony and impounded?

What is needed for defense?
Are you ever going to get gun back, or at least sent directly to your smith of choice for repair?

Seen a couple of threads regarding malfunctions of this sort, 1st reply seems to inevitably be "get it fixed, delete thread".
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Old May 29, 2017, 07:49 PM   #2
CalmerThanYou
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That sounds like a perfect storm of unlikely circumstances.
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Old May 29, 2017, 08:06 PM   #3
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Keep the gun pointed in a safe direction during the event.
Drop the magazine if safely possible to stop firing.
Make the weapon available to any LEO that ask.
Keep your mouth relatively shut and call your attorney.
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Old May 29, 2017, 08:11 PM   #4
NoSecondBest
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Unless it's been altered with the intention of making it full auto, it's just a gun that's malfunctioning. That's not a crime. I've seen many semi handguns go full auto due to a variety of reasons. I once had a 38Super that started doing it until I replaced the firing pin (it was sticking and would slam fire a full mag full. It was kind of fun but it did lead to immediate DQ at a shoot).
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Old May 29, 2017, 08:24 PM   #5
JohnKSa
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Quote:
But let's say it goes full auto at the range with an uptight leo watching.
Is that automatic felony and impounded?
It's not an automatic felony but I suppose the gun might be impounded depending on the circumstances.

If you're shooting your gun at the range and it malfunctions and fires a burst at some point and you react as a normal person would by clearing the gun, and putting it away I would think it's going to be a non-issue.

The way you get into trouble is if you do something like the following.

Lend someone an AR-15 with a three position lower that fires full auto at least some of the time when the lever is in the third position. When the guy you lent the gun to fires it full auto and gets caught and the investigation starts, get caught with a lot of information on your computer about how to convert firearms to full auto.
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Old May 29, 2017, 08:32 PM   #6
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My advice is invariably "Get it fixed" meaning having the problem diagnosed and repaired. I never advise "delete the thread", as I feel that is a personal matter to be considered carefully, as a "what do I do about..???) could be evidence for EITHER the defense or the prosecution, depending on circumstances.

One of our resident legal eagles can explain it in detail, that in general, while the law may state: "xxxx is illegal", and nothing further, there are legal principles involving motive that determine the difference between a prosecutable crime and an accidental violation of the law.

TIME OF POSESSION is an important factor in determining INTENT in a case where a gun malfunctions and goes full auto., And, that would also apply to the "uptight" LEO in the situation described. Yes, he's acting within the law if he impounds the gun and you, right there on the spot.

HOWEVER, if that happens, you have a good chance of either getting the case kicked out, or prosecution declined before getting to court, simply because you had no opportunity to demonstrate criminal intent. A good chance, but not a guarantee.

Simply put, if the gun goes full auto, and your response is "Holy CARP! that never happened before!!!" and you start field stripping the gun, putting it away, saying "this baby is going to the gunsmith first thing tomorrow", the usual response of the authorities is not to prosecute. Usually.

On the other hand, if it goes full auto, and your response is "Cool,..." and you put it away to hang on to, (unrepaired and with no effort made to get it repaired) looking around to see if anyone else noticed, hoping to keep it FA, and unknown to the gov. until you need a FA (TEOTWAWKI), THEN you are deliberately breaking the law and there will be no hesitation to prosecute.

(and damn little valid defense, either.)

My advice, is, that if you aren't busted on the range, as soon as business hours allow, (same day if possible, next business day at the latest) you deliver the malfunctioning firearm to a licensed repairman. And then go see a lawyer.

And if the lawyer tells you there's nothing to be done, you're going to jail for having a machine gun, get a different lawyer, ASAP.

Cases of people being prosecuted when their gun malfunctions (breaks) and goes full auto and they turned it in for repair as soon as reasonably possible, are so rare we never seen to hear of them.

A case where an AR went full auto, and the owner kept it for a year, before being caught, his buddies all knew he had it, he even loaned it out, THAT case I heard of!, And I do believe he was convicted....

Do note that immediately sending the gun to be fixed (and getting a lawyer) only applies if you desire to keep the gun. If you have no desire to keep the gun, you can turn it in to any cop shop 24/7. You won't get it back, ever, but it does demonstrate you are attempting to act in "good faith" and significantly reduces the chance that even a zealot DA will prosecute. Significantly reduces does not = no chance, however.

Hope this helps answer your question.
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Old May 29, 2017, 08:53 PM   #7
Bartholomew Roberts
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Staples v. United States specifically addresses the intent required regarding NFA weapons. Of course, it also used a definition of automatic that ATF ignores.
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Old May 29, 2017, 09:38 PM   #8
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Assuming I haven't been busted right there, and I do go to a smith asap, is the lawyer actually needed?

Knowing how staff here reacts, I'm not trying to disparage cops or call them subhuman non feeling monsters right now, but let me go ahead and mention the only speeding ticket I've had over a dozen years.
New Chevy, paper plate new. 130 miles on it new, with 31 when I left the lot. 2nd time on the freeway, 1st time if you ignore test drive. Got on the freeway as I accelerated, changed lanes safely to pass a semi. Got a second to look at speedo, noticed I had hit 80. Slowed down, set cruise control. Looked in rear view mirror, lights a flashing...
Literally takes longer to explain than it did to occur. I was speeding for maybe 3 seconds. Explained it all to the cop.
Still got a ticket.

Intent, Murphy's law, right cop at the wrong second, you going to jail. Or getting a ticket as the case may be.


Would appreciate one of the legal eagles $.02 on this when possible.
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Old May 29, 2017, 10:00 PM   #9
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Quote:
Assuming I haven't been busted right there, and I do go to a smith asap, is the lawyer actually needed?
You don't need a lawyer because your gun malfunctions, nor do you need to concern yourself overly with this topic. If you handle it as a reasonable person would be expected to, it's extremely unlikely to be an issue. It could certainly be handled poorly and depending on how badly it was handled it could turn into a real problem--but that's largely within your own control.
Quote:
Literally takes longer to explain than it did to occur. I was speeding for maybe 3 seconds. Explained it all to the cop.
Still got a ticket.
1. If you break traffic laws you should expect to get a ticket if a cop sees you doing it. That's one of the things the taxpayers pay cops to do and if they didn't do their job then they would be a waste of taxpayer money. It's not fun to get tickets, but that's part of living in a country with traffic laws and traffic enforcement.

2. If you feel like there are extenuating circumstances or that the ticket was given in error, then those issues are best handled in court, not by the side of the road. Cops are cops and judges are judges and confusing the two is frustrating and nonproductive for everyone involved. Cops don't determine guilt or innocence nor is it generally worthwhile to argue your case in front of one. Judges don't give tickets but they do determine guilt or innocence and if you have information/evidence to present, they will generally listen to it.
Quote:
I'm not trying to disparage cops or call them subhuman non feeling monsters right now...
I have to say that I find it extremely disturbing for someone to even hint that cops giving speeding tickets for exceeding the speed limit might qualify them as "subhuman non feeling monsters". That is not remotely a rational response to being caught breaking the law and being expected to pay the legally prescribed penalty for said offense.

Lest there be any misunderstanding, the above should not be considered an invitation to air additional grievances against the police nor as encouragement to attempt to justify negative personal opinions of law enforcement.
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Old May 29, 2017, 10:18 PM   #10
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I'm not a legal anything,this is not advice.Its what I'd do.

First,I'd stop,clear the gun.One burst CAN be an accident.Keep shooting and things get skeptical.
Then,I'd case it,and get it off the line.

Next,if your range officer or the concerned LEO approaches and makes a comment or asks a full auto question,
A TRUTHFUL reply "Its never done that before,apparently something is worn out or malfunctioning.Its out of service and I'll correct it immediately"...

Would likely take care of it.There may be a request for inspection.I'd expect problems if I had any funny or modified parts...but an honest,as built semi...there is no evidence you created the full auto condition.

Then,before I took it out again,I'd pull and replace the the trigger parts.

Now,that done,when you go back, load one round in your mag. Fire it.Reset your trigger and squeeze.Do you get a hammer drop?If so,its probably working right.
You might do that 10 times.
Then load two rounds.If you get no double taps,good.I might do that 10 times.

I might get disappointed,but I'm not losing sleep over worrying about it.

I have experienced 2 to 3 round out of an unmodified,high end factory AR.
Next time out,it had a new Gissele.
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Old May 30, 2017, 01:50 AM   #11
Bluecthomas
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Known ppl to get a warning after going 80 through a stop sign in a 35 zone. And not with any excuse. Comment was meant to illustrate complete lack of human empathy that cops may operate under for the quota, or for an available promotion, or raise.
I've now got 3k on the vehicle and am much better at knowing what speed it's traveling just by feel. And 1st ticket in a dozen years, that should of said plenty about my driving habits... But just in case, I'll mention no accidents of any sort in 17 years.

Take that kinda cop, have him watch you fire SA for an hour. Malfunction, "holy repeaters Batman, never done that before", you still gonna get cuffed and stuffed.

As the op, purpose of this thread is pretty much a worst case. What to do when you Murphys law hit in full effect in front of THAT cop.
If you are unaware of THAT cop, I'd like to introduce you to a friend of mine. His name is Reality...

Btw, could probably have beaten the $180 ticket, or more likely reduced it, by spending all day in court, and not making about $150 take home.
No contest and pay the fine often far cheaper than proving innocence, or ex circumstances, could talk about my only conviction and it's $300 fine vs my buddy's dismissal and $1,500 lawyer bill... welcome to America.
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Old May 30, 2017, 02:38 AM   #12
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It comes down to the LEO in question.

I had a one-of-a-kind pistol double on me just a few weeks ago.

To make matters worse, it was on video.
When that video was shown to a high-ranking LEO (not by my choice), the reaction was, "D--m, you should get that thing fixed!"

Not all law enforcement officers are anti-gun.
And very few are 'out to get you'.
Most understand that malfunctions happen.

The pistol was not designed for burst or full-auto fire.
I did not modify it to go full-auto.
And, I was not trying to go full-auto.
It was a malfunction. (Sear is worn, causing the hammer to sometimes follow the slide. It will be fixed.)


A few years ago...
Similar, and different situation.
A friend's 10-22 started shooting bursts during an outing.
We messed with it a bit to see if it was bump-firing (unlikely on a .22, but plausible), or if it was a trigger issue, or if it was slam-firing.
With very little troubleshooting, we found that it was legitimately going full-auto for a random number of rounds (from two to seven). By squeezing the trigger *just right*, you could predictably make it fire more than one shot (how many more seemed random).

The rifle was taken home, cleaned, inspected, and test-fired again. An 'uptight' LEO heard something odd and came to check things out. After my friend explained that he was trying to figure out what was wrong with the 10-22 by firing it into a stump in his basement, the LEO expounded that what was taking place was technically illegal (discharging a firearm within city limits), but reasonably safe (stump for bullets, backed by 12" thick concrete foundation walls).

The 10-22 turned out to just have worn out springs. Replacement sear, trigger, and disconnector springs fixed the issue.


Not all LEOs are out to get you, even if "uptight"...
Even if they are... it's still a malfunction. (Unless you're trying to prolong that malfunction into a predictable function.)
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Old May 30, 2017, 06:12 AM   #13
Spats McGee
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Returning to the original questions . . .
Quote:
Obviously, if your gun malfunctions in any way, stop shooting immediately until fixed.
Obviously.
Quote:
But let's say it goes full auto at the range with an uptight leo watching.
Is that automatic felony and impounded?
Yes, possession of an unregistered machine gun is a felony. No doubt about that. It is also defensible under the circumstances detailed in this thread (unexpectedly going full-auto). Were one of my guns to do this, I'd immediately drop the mag, unload, and start stripping the gun. I wouldn't want an operable FA gun in my hands without a stamp any longer than absolutely necessary.

Quote:
What is needed for defense?
That will depend on the circumstances of how it all goes down. With that said, I'd think about things like whether there's video of the event, a sign-in sheet at the range from which witnesses can be located, etc.

Quote:
Are you ever going to get gun back, or at least sent directly to your smith of choice for repair?
There's really know way of knowing for certain.
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Old May 30, 2017, 07:01 AM   #14
K_Mac
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The idea that an 80 mph test run in traffic is anything like a malfunction at the range is silly. Using "Known ppl to get a warning after going 80 through a stop sign in a 35 zone. And not with any excuse." as a justification/rationalization even sillier. Your attitude towards law enforcement, and your childish notion that if you have an excuse your intentional law breaking should be overlooked doesn't belong here in my opinion.
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Old May 30, 2017, 07:38 AM   #15
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If owning an autoloader causes such concern, it might be prudent to check the action when first arriving at the range.
The easiest way is to just load two rounds and test it.
See how simple life can be?
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Old May 30, 2017, 12:59 PM   #16
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I would hope if not been modified, then no big deal, and would realize malfunction.

Myself, put it away. Strip at home. I like to fix things, or don't rush to get to things. I would strip.

To me it is broken, not an auto. But I am not a cop. To me the issue would be if you keep using it and telling people.


I knew a guy claimed if over lubed it would do it. Is that a design issue or an illegal gun?
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Old May 30, 2017, 01:05 PM   #17
45_auto
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bluecthomas
But let's say it goes full auto at the range with an uptight leo watching.
Is that automatic felony and impounded?
Has anyone anywhere ever been charged with having a full-auto when the gun is an otherwise-legal semi-auto that malfunctioned?

I can't find any record anywhere and have never heard of an occurrence.

As JohnKSa said, if you're playing around with illegal configurations and get caught don't be surprised if you end up with some high lawyer costs. Otherwise, you might as well worry about getting struck by a meteor while on the range.

I see it happen a couple of times a year. Stuck firing pin, worn sear, etc. Never seen any repercussions.

Best one I ever saw was a friend's Glock 19 that would fire two shots so fast it sounded like a single shot. No way to tell it doubled except for the two holes in the target about an inch apart. No idea what was wrong, it went back to Glock and came back fixed.

First trigger job I ever did was on a Winchester 190 (tube fed .22) back in the late 1960's. It emptied the tube the first time the bolt was released to load the chamber (didn't occur to me to only load one or two). Learned a lot about trigger/sear angles right there.
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Old May 30, 2017, 02:16 PM   #18
HiBC
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Very often a dog can tell whether to tail wag and sniff your hand,or growl ,get the hackles up,and show some teeth.

Its not a perfect world,there are all kinds of people...including cops.

I get it that the LEO wants to make it home to see their family.I get it that the LEO that is complacent,that has their guard down,may not last.

I understand and accept the LEO approaches me hand on sidearm,was it Gen Mattis ?that said something like "Be friendly and respectful to all you meet,as you maintain a plan to immediately kill them"

Its a chicken/egg situation,but our society has created the necessity that LEO's sustain that mindset.Or have a fallen officer funeral.

The idea that cops are inherently "bad" is a self fulfilling prophecy.Eyeroll,sneer,be all tense,will set off primal responses,just like a farmyard dog.If YOU identify cops as the "Enemy".
It IS a cops job to checkout a full auto burst at a range.How you or I respond goes a long way towards how it will end.

" Good afternoon,Officer Yes sir,I understand you heard a 5 round burst and you are just doing your job. It surprised me.Its a semi only gun,something is wrong.etc,etc. "

A lot of folks identify with the "defiant anti-cop" simply because they smoke pot.Thats the Us vs Them.
Cops don't write law.

My first traffic ticket came from my response to a tailgater with bright lights in my eyes.
Annoyed,I pulled the Hurst Tee handle shifter of my 1967 Chevelle SS 396 down into second as I floored the accelerator and dumped the clutch.Just about the time I made a front end lightening 2nd to third powershift,understand,this is an old school muscle car.There is a certain amout of drama...tire smoke,the sound of the hood being sucked into the carburetor...the 5000 rpm big block thing...I suppose all that took less than 5 seconds.

That's about when the tailgater turned on his light bar and I figured out it was a Hiway patrolman.

I'll leave the rest to your imagination,...I laugh about my impulsive youth.But I have no complaint with the LEO.

Last edited by HiBC; May 30, 2017 at 02:48 PM.
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