Article Index

Because the prosecution and defense have pre-emptory challenges during jury selection, at least you should not have rabid anti-gunners on your jury, nor will you have people who have used a gun in self defense or are admittedly pro-gun. You are not guaranteed a jury of your peers, just a jury of fellow citizens.

These jurors have to judge both the prosecution’s accusations and the defense’s explanations about modifications, light triggers and reloaded ammunition used during a self-defense shooting in order to reach a verdict of guilty or not guilty. Let us next study those issues in detail.

Gun Modifications

When a forensic firearms examiner for the state examines a gun used in a shooting, any external modifications made to the gun are listed on the crime lab report given to the prosecutor. If the prosecutor believes that any of these modifications may paint you, the defendant, in a bad light, these findings will be heralded in court. The prosecutor asks the forensic firearms examiner to explain during testimony what they found when they examined the gun, and then asks the examiner to compare your gun to an unaltered, factory stock gun. If you installed different sights, an extended magazine release, an extended slide lock/release, or cut the frame down so you could conceal the gun easier, that will be discussed.

The prosecutor will then ask the purpose of these modifications. If your defense attorney is savvy, he or she will object at this point, because your purpose is outside the knowledge of that witness. Only the defendant can testify why he or she made those modifications. An argument will ensue between attorneys with the judge as referee. If the judge is sympathetic to the prosecution (most are, being former prosecutors themselves), the objection will be overruled and the examiner allowed to opine why those modifications may have been made. The questions might go something like this:

Q: Why do people put different sights on guns?

A: To make it easier to kill people.

Q: Why do people put extended magazine releases on guns?

A: Because on some guns, the factory magazine release is too small to make it easy to quickly reload the gun and continue firing.

Q: Why might a person put an extended slide release on a gun?

A: For the same purpose of an extended magazine release. If the person just got done shooting all the bullets in the magazine and he wanted to quickly get the gun reloaded to continue killing, an extended slide release will save them a whole second as opposed to racking the slide manually. A good shooter can shoot 4 or 5 more bullets in that extra second.

Now, put yourself in the place of a 65-year-old grandmother serving on a jury. She has never shot a gun in her life and sympathizes with the “gun victim” mantra as reported by the anti-gun media and perhaps she even voted for our anti-gun president and vice-president. Do you think this line of questioning might create in her mind a negative opinion about you, the defendant?

Many readers are retorting, “But, Marty, those things are easily explained!” I agree, but must now ask, “Who is going to explain them?” Are you a firearms expert who is accustomed to testifying in court? Do you know how to educate your defense team so they can effectively cross-examine the prosecution’s witness? Probably not. The good news is that if you are a member of the Armed Citizens’ Legal Defense Network, Inc. we can provide those experts to help, but even for our Network members, the best for which we can hope is to neutralize the state’s argument, but the prosecution’s smears upon your character will linger in jurors’ minds.

Up to now, we’ve discussed modifications to gun function only not appearance or style. Adorning your firearms with cutesy little illustrations can only work against you. The only visual modification I support would be to hard chrome or apply another tougher finish than the rust-prone blued finish your gun may have come with.