The Legal Brief has continued to build upon its successful launch into a fantastic no-nonsense resource for the gun community. Attorney Adam Kraut, an associate at the Firearms Industry Consulting Group and Prince Law Offices, P.C. takes the years required to earn his J.D. and boils critical legal topics relevant to the gun world into practical snippets.
Unfortunately, I am late to publishing one of his latest Briefs, a review of the legal basis of modifying one’s firearm. Mr. Kraut, Esq. breaks down the due process that one will go through post defensive encounter and basically so long as one used their weapon in legal self-defense, one is free to modify their weapon as they see fit.
That said, if one is charged there is the potential that one’s modifications could be used to show the intent of the shooter, but its nearly unheard of (Adam states he’s never heard of one, which as a firearms attorney is a significant statement).
The key is, as always, the totality of the circumstances is the key. A modified firearm, assuming the modification does not cause a negligent discharge, is only a minor issue, if its an issue at all.
My take? Modify away on functional bits such as triggers and non-functional aesthetic options such as colors. However, stay away from items that could be construed to show intent such as a “Smile, Wait for Flash” on the crown of a barrel, etc.
Of course, there is the additional caveat regarding the brand, style, and type of ammunition. Your attorney’s defense team may need a firearms legal expert (like Massad Ayoob) to explain to the folks who were unable to avoid jury duty why you were carrying ‘cop-killer bullets’, or Black Talons or some other ‘evil sounding’ named ammunition. And why the extra rounds? (magazine(s), speedloader(s))? Were you planning to ‘fill ’em full o’lead’?
And, at least some of this depends on geography. Is your prosecutor in gun-hating New York or California, of gun-friendly (generally) Arizona?
Also, do you want your special, custom, smith-worked-on machine to be held in a dusty evidence room until after the trial? Some folks shoot their custom guns for fun, but carry stock guns they won’t miss if they are stored away in a gov’t evidence room (from which evidence has been known to have been played with, tampered with, and/or disappear?)
Many things to consider when you carry. And what you carry?