Court-proofing your firearm

  1. Editor
    This article will aggravate some who have spent a lot of money accessorizing their Glocks. Such is not my intent. What I do intend is, to help our forum members understand a small part of the legal process, and how the choices of accessories that are made will play out in a court of law.

    jury-box-560.jpg

    Let me explain what I mean by accessorizing. I'm not referring to mechanical changes to the weapon, such as replacing stock sights with night sights, trigger jobs, or similar alterations (just make sure the alterations are safe and don't void manufacturers warranties.) Those types of customizations are court defensible.

    Choices of accessories like slide cover plates that say: "Widow maker" are what I'm referring to as dangerous to you in court and here's why.

    The last resort option of the use of deadly force situation has happened. You were defending yourself or another and you've shot someone. Something that you never wanted to do and prayed that wouldn't happen finally has. Now, your cherished Glock is evidence in a trial, whether it is criminal or civil.

    Your weapon will be closely examined. The external appearance changes give a prosecutor, or an attorney in a civil case, the ability to attack your decision to shoot based upon perception. That perception may very well not be what you had in mind when you changed the appearance. That said, accessories tell a lot about you. Perception can and often is the most important thing in a trial of any sort. Sadly, the facts sometimes take a back seat, especially in civil cases, to the picture a skilled attorney paints of you, because of the accessories you have on your Glock.

    As an example: you have a back plate that says, "Widow maker." And this is just one of the many slide cover plates out there. The opposing attorney now has a psychological snapshot of what your mindset is, and will go to great lengths to establish that the "Widow maker" slide cover plate on your weapon means you previously decided and were eagerly seeking a chance to shoot or kill someone.

    A psychologist, hired by the opposition will explain, based upon your slide cover plate choice, that you view yourself as a stone cold killer. Never mind that you put it on your weapon because it looks cool. Here are some examples that I've culled from the Internet which I think are a bad idea to have on your weapon.

    court-1-561.jpg
    I think if you look at these examples you can see how a smart, slick attorney could use them against you. Viewed through that lens, as the saying goes these days, "The optics are bad." They give a snapshot of someone's psyche.

    And there will be a juror in the trial, should it come to that, who thinks all the guns in America should be taken away from law abiding citizens and owners, and the Second Amendment is an antiquated concept. It is that juror who may hold the key to conviction, depending on his or her eloquence, and the facts of the case be damned during deliberations.

    And it isn't just the slide cover plate that I'm talking about. There are bottom plates to the magazines, which say the same things. Some folks engrave sentiments on the slides of their weapons, or have them on barrels. Again, I found these images on the Internet and as far as I know, I am allowed to use them under published public domain.

    court-2-562.jpg
    A disclaimer is necessary here: I am not attacking the manufacturers, sellers, or designers of slide cover plates, engravers, or anyone else. I am also not telling any one else not to buy these items. All I am trying to do, and my sole purpose to give an example the criminal or civil downside if they are on a weapon used in a deadly force situation where criminal or civil prosecution results.

    If you want to install a unique slide plate, or decorate your Glock with something that is a reflection of personal or religious creed, motto, or deeply held conviction, then by all means do so, using the provider of your choice.

    Bottom line is, hope, and pray that you never have to employ deadly force. If you do-- in my opinion at least-- use a weapon that has no accessories, which could be used to condemn you in court.

    Bio: The author is a retired New Mexico Law Enforcement officer who has witnessed how weapon accessories can negatively portray someone and sway a jury.

    Share This Article

Comments

To view comments, simply sign up and become a member!