Throwback Thursday — Does a Modified Trigger Create a Legal Hazard for the Gunowner?

By Woody published on in Consumer Information

In this video, Kirk Evans, president of Texas Law Shield and U.S. Law Shield, goes over the civil implications of modifying trigger-pull weight on your firearms. Good news: If you have intentionally fired your gun, its trigger-pull weight is probably irrelevant from a legal perspective.

Before the issue of trigger-pull weight may come into play, the first question in the legal analysis could be, “Why was the person’s finger on the trigger before he or she intended to discharge the weapon?”

He says that if you fired your gun like you intended, the fact that it operated with a very light trigger pull or a heavy trigger pull will likely be of little consequence. If you intentionally shot someone or something, the key legal issue will be whether or not you were justified in the shooting.

However, in the civil arena, Evans said a plaintiff’s attorney will try to make your modification of the trigger an issue, even if it’s not legally relevant. Particularly, in a situation of a non-intended discharge, the issue of trigger pull weight could be relevant.

In a situation involving a non-intended discharge, the law will likely impose a negligent or reckless standard to evaluate the conduct of the person discharging the firearm, and the circumstances surrounding why the gun discharged will be evaluated. This could hypothetically include the trigger-pull weight of your gun.

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Comments (12)

  • Secundius

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    I have Advanced Rheumatoid Arthritis in BOTH Hands, so in order to Shoot. I NEED a “Glass Break” Trigger to Shoot With…

    Reply

  • Dave fro San Antonio

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    In todays legal minefield and the games some lawyers play…if you are involved in a shooting, intentional or accidental, you can expect the prosecutor will go into trigger pull as a “factor” in the shooting. If the shooting was, per the law, in justifiable self defense and for some reason goes to court, expect to have every part of your firearm criticized, especially if you have modified it in any way from the “factory made” item you purchased. They WILL say you modified it so it would be easier for you to shoot someone. The same goes for hand loads…you loaded them the way you did so they would cause more damage and kill your assailant. With todays ‘anti-gunner’ crowd you must look at every angle that can and will be used against you…even when, under the law, you were justified.

    Reply

    • Mike

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      I think gun owners make a bigger deal of this than anyone! Firing a firearm at someone a use of DEADLY FORCE and if I shoot at someone, I plan on ending their life!
      The people who get hung are those individual who apologize and change their story to deflect responsibility… And it doesn’t work!

      If I shoot a bad guy defending my life or someone else, I’m not going back in time to change a thing, I’m not apologize, nor will I pretend it was an “accident.” It sucks, but there’s is reason why police departments have officers wait 24 hours before making a statement after they use their weapon.

      All this “proper home defense” talk does gives the government a reason to limit what weapons you can own…. “Everyone knows a 5 round enclosed hammer 38 is all you need!”

      Reply

    • John

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      Like the Original article said, if it was intentional, then these issues are largely irrelevant.

      Take the Zimmerman trial, the prosecution tried everything they could. They even tried to throw in child abuse.

      Yet, his firearm and it’s specifics wasn’t delved into at any depth at all.
      i haven’t been able to find any justifiable shootings where trigger weight was an issue.

      So Dave, although i understand your apprehension, there’s simply no real evidence that this is done in other cases than civil liability cases, where they might go down that path.

      Unless of course you have some kind of tangible case history that would indicate otherwise. IF so i’d love to see it.

      Reply

    • sam

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      That’s because the trigger on Zimmerman’s Kel Tec is likely so heavy that it takes an act of congress to pull?

      Reply

  • Mike

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    It’s really easy to get wrapped up in the legality of specific trigger pull weight, weapons and ammo.
    Simply put, if I pull the trigger on a legitimate threat defending the life of myself or someone else, I’m responsible for it! There are no “negligent” or “unintentional” discharges.
    People that give into these semantics end up signing plea deals that land them in jail!
    Do what you do, say what you do and stand by it!

    Reply

  • steve

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    Hi Mikhail !- I agree-one of the reasons I came down South was the legal,moral and economic mess the dems have made of the decrepit north.If somebody violently attacks me or my loved ones they will not survive -trigger pull will leave us safe-I am a bullseye shooter and shoot at least four times a week. All I want is for my friends out there to wake up the next day after a life threatening situation.

    Reply

    • Mikial

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      @Steve.

      I’m with you all the way, Brother. I’d rather my wife and I be alive to go through the court case, than to be in boxes and nothing but a couple of more numbers on the FBI crime victim statistics list.

      Reply

  • steve b.

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    Consider this-in 1973 my cousins friend kicked in a door of a building in Suez. Behind the door were three Egyptians and a 30 cal. machine gun.The Israeli unloaded a complete clip of 9mm Uzi ammo and survived. What I am saying is that in a CQB situation it is often he who fires first who walks away. A NY trigger will probably kill you.All my 1911 have a 31/2 to 4 lb pull. I wont miss.

    Reply

    • Mikial

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      Steve, Israelis are trained to a level most people can’t even imagine. But, you are correct that he who shoots first usually wins.

      But the article is about the aftermath of that victory. Was the shooting intentional? Was it justified? Was the shooting a response to a threat, or the result of poor trigger control.

      I agree with you, but this isn’t the Sinai or Ramadi in 2006, we have to be able to justify what we did to the police or possible in a court of law.

      Reply

  • Mikial

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    Several points of importance here:

    1. If you are in a high risk situation, you will probably have your finger either on the trigger or within fractions of it. Know your target, know yourself, and pull it when you intend to pull it. There should not be an NG in a life or death situation.

    2. It is entirely possible that some up and coming prosecutor might decide to try to get another conviction so they can make a run for a judge appointment, but if you do your homework and ensure you have legal representation, you have a better chance of coming through it okay.

    3. If you live in a state that is hostile to legal gun owners . . . move! I grew up hunting in upstate New York, but left when I was 18 and never looked back. I would not live in CA, CO, OR, or any of the northeastern states for a million dollar a year job.

    4. Finally, my EDC is a stock out of the box gun. I do have guns with trigger jobs for competition shooting, but I don’t carry it for EDC. You don’t need it. Keep it simple, keep it real, and know the laws of your state.

    These idiots who set up ambushes to kill burglars are just that, idiots. They deserve to be arrested but what WE don’t deserve is to be lumped in with them.

    Reply

    • Matt

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      “3. If you live in a state that is hostile to legal gun owners . . . move! I grew up hunting in upstate New York, but left when I was 18 and never looked back. I would not live in CA, CO, OR, or any of the northeastern states for a million dollar a year job.”

      I live in Oregon, I feel no hostility. Oregon is full of gun owners and has many of the biggest names in the firearms industry located here. We have no state specific gun rules other than some hunting stuff. Full NFA ownership, 30 round clips, bayonet lugs, the whole works.

      It’s cool though, we’re doing fine without you.

      Reply

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