September 2013 - Pg 10-Gun Mods
In effect, the light trigger pull renders the trigger guard less effective; a glancing blow, an unintentional touch could cause the weapon to discharge. Normally, the trigger guard will prevent many of those types of accidents.”
“Cases from other jurisdictions dealing with accidental discharges allegedly caused by light trigger pull weights can also help give an idea of how dangerous the hair trigger here was. In DeRosa v. Remington Arms Co., Inc. (E.D.N.Y. 1981) 509 F.Supp. 762, a products liability case, Judge Weinstein ruled that a police shotgun with a trigger pull weight of 4.5 pounds, which was within the industry guideline of 3 and 3.25 pounds to 6.5 pounds, was not unreasonably dangerous. (Id. at pp. 764, 768.) By contrast, in Hines v. Remington Arms Co., Inc. (La.App. 1993), reversed in part on other grounds in Hines v. Remington Arms Co., Inc. (La. 1994) 648 So.2d 331, another products liability case, the court held that a competition target-shooting rifle with a 2-ounce trigger pull weight was unreasonably dangerous per se. (Hines v. Remington Arms. Co., Inc., supra, 630 So.2d at pp. 813, 814.)
“All this, of course, provides only a rough approximation of how dangerous the gun was and leaves us with a judgment to make. Helpful for this purpose is the series of California cases dealing with when a vehicle owner who leaves the keys in the ignition has a duty to third parties injured by negligent operation by a thief or other unauthorized person who uses the vehicle. These cases provide a scale of degrees of dangerousness against which we can measure our case by analogy.” (Which is utter bull poop, of course, but is an example of how courts can twist reality to arrive at the desired decision. Car thief, and light trigger pull weight are analogous?)
Consider this from Louisiana:
Willy shot Taffy, his girlfriend, and tried to claim it was an accident. (Actually he shot her with a .40 cal. and then told her father she was “just faking it” as she lay on the floor of the garage bleeding out, so we are not dealing with a rocket scientist here).
“Again, the evidence established that Ms. Hargrove was in a defensive posture at the time of the shooting and that the bullet did not ricochet off of any other object or surface prior to hitting her, indicating a straight-on shot. Mr. Hargrove testified that Defendant fled the scene immediately, which further allows for an inference of guilt. Testimony was introduced to the effect that .40 caliber weapons generally have a trigger pull weight which greatly reduces the chances of accidental discharge and that, generally, an individual has to have intent to pull the trigger of a .40 caliber weapon.** Finally, Ms. Hargrove stated that Defendant ‘just shot me.’ This evidence as a whole indicates that the gun was not discharged by accident.
**Corporal Walls allowed that it would be possible for a .40 caliber weapon to accidentally discharge. He also noted, however, that “pull pressures” are normally assigned to triggers in order to prevent accidental discharge and that, absent another object having lodged on the trigger (such as a tree branch), an individual would “have to have intent” to pull the trigger of a .40 caliber weapon.
There are 3 or 4 others, all of them accidental discharge defenses. I found no reported appellate cases where any discussion on this issue occurred in the context of a self-defense case, nor would I expect to. In order to claim self-defense, you must admit that you purposefully shot an assailant. If you intended to do so, the pull weight of the trigger and the extent of one’s training are largely irrelevant. (“Pull weight schmull weight, it would not have mattered if it had a 15-pound trigger pull. I shot the SOB until he stopped trying to kill me...”) It won’t keep some enterprising prosecutor from bleating about it in court, creating an issue to confuse a jury already drowning in facts and bullets and blood, which is never a good idea. And there is no way of knowing how many cases at the trial level there are out there where this precise thing has happened.
So, personally, if anyone asks me, I tell them never to screw around with the pull weight on a self-defense trigger, or if they simply must, have it done by a professional gunsmith, and keep it within factory recommendations.