Author Topic: The Legal implications of hand-loads for self defense  (Read 10078 times)

Offline Serellan

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The Legal implications of hand-loads for self defense
« on: November 21, 2008, 01:05:12 PM »
In a recent Guns & Ammo compilation on home defense, there was a great article on the legalities of concealed carry and armed defense. (I wish I could find an online version to link to, if anyone can, please post it).

The one thing in the article that I hadn't thought of before was the legal implications of using handloads.  The author recommends only using factory ammo for CC & home defense.  This is because handloads can provide inconsistant ballistic data from penetration & GSR residue that might conflict with what actually happens.  There are several examples of people using hot or light loads that caused them legal troubles in the aftermath of a personal defense shooting.  In one case, a defendant's wife killed herself, but because the husband had loaded their home defense pistol with really light loads for her, there was no GSR on her from the self-inflicted wound.  The prosecuters argued that because there was no GSR on her, she must have been shot from a distance.  The defendant tried to enter his detailed loading notes as evidence, but was overturned.

I don't handload, for me I use 124g Federal Hydrashock in my 92FS, and 65g Magtech Defense in my P32 pocket carry; but I thought this would be good information for those of you who may use handloads in PD firearms.

millerized1

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Re: The Legal implications of hand-loads for self defense
« Reply #1 on: November 21, 2008, 01:16:54 PM »
I "DO" reload, but NEVER carry them in my EDC.

Practice, practice practice with Personal Defense ammo would cost me a fortune, a self defense shooting with reloads just might cost me everything.

Offline JokersWild

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Re: The Legal implications of hand-loads for self defense
« Reply #2 on: November 21, 2008, 01:36:28 PM »
I don't handload, for me I use 124g Federal Hydrashock in my 92FS, and 65g Magtech Defense in my P32 pocket carry; but I thought this would be good information for those of you who may use handloads in PD firearms.

There was a segment on Personal Defense TV done by Massad Ayoob regarding this same matter. He stated that it's fine to use handloads for plinking for when carrying for personal defense it's best to use commercial. I believe he also said to date when you loaded your firearm with the particular rounds and sign it.

Offline TimSuggs

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Re: The Legal implications of hand-loads for self defense
« Reply #3 on: November 21, 2008, 03:14:47 PM »
http://thesurvivalpodcast.com/forum/index.php?topic=833.0

Some more chitchat about the legalities of CCW concerns.

Tim Suggs
Birmingham, AL. USA!

Offline TacticalSquirrel

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Re: The Legal implications of hand-loads for self defense
« Reply #4 on: December 23, 2008, 11:25:49 PM »
There isn't a single case in the US that has had this issue come up, nor a conviction because the person used handloads. The arguement that handloads were crafted to kill better can also be looked at as they were made to be more accurate, lessening danger to bystanders. The issue of not using handloads for self defense has blown into something bordering on urban legend.

I use factory in all my guns, but I would not have a problem using remanufactured from a quality company nor reloads offduty if I was satisfied with their consistency and quality.

I think its more about quality, not legalities, as to the reason to use factory vs reloads.

James Yeager

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Re: The Legal implications of hand-loads for self defense
« Reply #5 on: December 24, 2008, 12:05:24 AM »
There isn't a single case in the US that has had this issue come up, nor a conviction because the person used handloads.

As a court certified expert on firearms, tactics and training I have to respectfully disagree. This issue has come up more than once.

Offline Jack Crabb

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Re: The Legal implications of hand-loads for self defense
« Reply #6 on: December 24, 2008, 07:43:46 AM »
There isn't a single case in the US that has had this issue come up, nor a conviction because the person used handloads.

As a court certified expert on firearms, tactics and training I have to respectfully disagree. This issue has come up more than once.

What cases?  What were the arguments and outcomes?

James Yeager

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Re: The Legal implications of hand-loads for self defense
« Reply #7 on: December 24, 2008, 08:12:59 AM »
I cannot site caselaw from memory but issues like this are well documented.

Use whatever ammo you want but keep in mind you have three fights:

1. The gunfight
2. The legal fight (criminal and civil)
3. The emotional fight

 You handload won't help you with #1 because you might be able to make ammo as good as commercial companies like CorBon but you can't make it better. Your handload will not help with #2 and can only make it worse. Your handload won't help with #3 either but if you decide to blow your brains out because you are losing everything in civil court handloads are fine.

James Yeager

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Re: The Legal implications of hand-loads for self defense
« Reply #8 on: December 24, 2008, 08:17:56 AM »
Here are two cases if found after looking for 60 seconds: http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0BQY/is_4_51/ai_n11840291

Offline TimSuggs

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Re: The Legal implications of hand-loads for self defense
« Reply #9 on: December 24, 2008, 10:06:02 AM »
I cannot site caselaw from memory but issues like this are well documented.

Use whatever ammo you want but keep in mind you have three fights:

1. The gunfight
2. The legal fight (criminal and civil)
3. The emotional fight

 You handload won't help you with #1 because you might be able to make ammo as good as commercial companies like CorBon but you can't make it better. Your handload will not help with #2 and can only make it worse. Your handload won't help with #3 either but if you decide to blow your brains out because you are losing everything in civil court handloads are fine.

Well stated James, AND 100% correct!  I'm an avid reader of Massad Ayoob's monthly column in Combat Hanguns Magazine which is one of the finest on-going sources of information of what happens AFTER you pull the trigger for not only CCW holders but LE badge holders as well.  And as a former Police Officer who has used lethal force successfully to defend myself, I can tell you most people, no matter how much they think about it before hand and prepare for it, #3 is going to take it's toll on them, or their family.    +1 for ya!

Tim.


Offline TacticalSquirrel

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Re: The Legal implications of hand-loads for self defense
« Reply #10 on: December 24, 2008, 10:22:39 AM »
I stand corrected that it hasn't been brought up in court. I challenge someone to find an actual conviction based on using handloads however.

We will be damned if we do, damned if we don't in the event of a shooting. I could come under the same attack from a zealous prosecutor or civil attorney for using hollowpoints vs FMJ's, or because I used evil FMJ's that are known for piercing armor. Words will always be twisted.

The Crime Lab issue is a strong argument for using factory. Thinking of the shootings I have been around more was accomplished with a Total Station and lab analysis was not needed in those fashions.

I am strongly looking towards developing reloads for my SBR, as duty ammunition is out of reach for me this budget cycle and the affordable factory alternative is FMJ's. Even my agency had to go to FMJ's for the rifles due to costs.

Everything is a risk balance. I can purchase carry loads and not afford to train, practice, or anything like that, or I can lower my costs by using ammunition I can practice and train with and become proficient with.

Damned if we do, damned if we don't.

James Yeager

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Re: The Legal implications of hand-loads for self defense
« Reply #11 on: December 24, 2008, 04:17:21 PM »
I challenge someone to find an actual conviction based on using handloads however.

Herein lies the problem; getting convicted is only one issue. The ideal outcome is to never be charged with a crime. Although you may never be convicted you will still have to pay for an attorney and experts to prove your handloads are not evil. I assure everyone here, as someone who has sucessfully defended a 9.2 million dollar lawsuit, it is cheaper for a box of CorBons than it is to hire an attorney.

Offline Jack Crabb

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Re: The Legal implications of hand-loads for self defense
« Reply #12 on: December 24, 2008, 04:39:06 PM »
I challenge someone to find an actual conviction based on using handloads however.
I assure everyone here, as someone who has sucessfully defended a 9.2 million dollar lawsuit, it is cheaper for a box of CorBons than it is to hire an attorney.

What was the basis and outcome of the suit?

James Yeager

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Re: The Legal implications of hand-loads for self defense
« Reply #13 on: December 24, 2008, 04:46:51 PM »

I am strongly looking towards developing reloads for my SBR, as duty ammunition is out of reach for me this budget cycle and the affordable factory alternative is FMJ's. Even my agency had to go to FMJ's for the rifles due to costs.

 Depending on exactly which FMJ (and caliber) we are talking about, and the barrel length of the gun (i.e. velocity) they may be the exact right balance of penetration and projectile deformation. Certainly an SBR has special needs but the best bet is probably a good FMJ because SBRs are lacking in penetraion and using a fragmention or hollowpoint round get dismal results. For instance the 40 gr Federal Blitz round only gets 4.6 on penetration. That isn't enough on a full length gun that gets good fragmentation but in an SBR it might work well.  

James Yeager

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Re: The Legal implications of hand-loads for self defense
« Reply #14 on: December 24, 2008, 09:37:15 PM »

What was the basis and outcome of the suit?

The basis of the suit was an alleged contract violation and, as I said, I successfully defended it.

Offline Jack Crabb

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Re: The Legal implications of hand-loads for self defense
« Reply #15 on: December 25, 2008, 12:15:33 PM »

What was the basis and outcome of the suit?

The basis of the suit was an alleged contract violation and, as I said, I successfully defended it.

How did the use of hand-loads in a self defense situation arise in a contract violation law suit?  How did your expert testimony lead to a successful defense?

James Yeager

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Re: The Legal implications of hand-loads for self defense
« Reply #16 on: December 25, 2008, 07:00:55 PM »

What was the basis and outcome of the suit?

The basis of the suit was an alleged contract violation and, as I said, I successfully defended it.

How did the use of hand-loads in a self defense situation arise in a contract violation law suit?  How did your expert testimony lead to a successful defense?

 I never said I was sued for using handloads. I was making a point about the expense of proving you did nothing wrong.

Offline Jack Crabb

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Re: The Legal implications of hand-loads for self defense
« Reply #17 on: December 26, 2008, 12:50:02 AM »

 I never said I was sued for using handloads. I was making a point about the expense of proving you did nothing wrong.

Your first response to TacticalSquirrel stated you were a court-certified expert and the use of handloads has come up more than once.  What was the point of mentioning your prior expert assistance/testimony if it had nothing to do with handloads and self-defense?

As TacticalSquirrel said, the notion that CCW holders are being convicted for using handloads in self-defense shootings is an urban legend, or at least has not yet been proved.  The link to the article you posted cites a case from the 1970's and a suicide.  Mas wrote the article in 2005.  The article's thesis was handloads and self-defense.  One would expect an author to use his most persuasive examples to support his thesis.  Is this the best we can come up with in 30+ years?

The suicide example is irrelevant to the CCW holder using self-defense.  First, suicide is not an act of self-defense.  Second, there is no question who shot whom in a self-defense shooting so GSR on the actual shooter is a non-issue.  Self-defense is an affirmative defense meaning one has to admit the shooting and then justify it.  That being said, distance between the participants could be an issue and having sample, i.e., factory, ammo available to test for distance relative to powder burns, stippling, etc. could be helpful.

The case from the 1970's is not very helpful either.  Mas's more extensive writing on that instance also addresses at length the fact that hollow points were used.  Mas mentions that in the early 70's high performance ammo was just beginning to appear and not widely available to LEO's.  How much of the outcome of the case turned on the actions of the parties versus the use of hollow points versus the handloaded ammo?

A point to consider is that the widely recognized experts on firearms have to recommend only factory ammo.  They are not going to risk their professional reputation and take responsibility/liability for the consequences of recommending handloads when they have no control over anyone's handloading practices.

At the end of the day though, factory ammo for your CCW purposes is the only way to go.  Handloaders take it as an insult to their manhood to suggest their ammo is less than superior to the factory stuff.  Set the ego aside, it has no place for one carrying a firearm. 

Cost is not an issue.  Factory ammo is cheap compared to the legal fees, bail, loss of the subject firearm to the evidence locker, etc. that come with an act of self-defense.  Practice and plink with whatever you want.  Bad reloads can at least test your immediate action drills.

A lot of the other reasons for carrying factory ammo, i.e., exemplar ammo, reduced muzzle flash loads, reliability, etc. have already been mentioned.  I would add to that in the event the ammo malfunctions, either I or my estate can sue the manufacturer.  You don't get that with handloads.

millerized1

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Re: The Legal implications of hand-loads for self defense
« Reply #18 on: December 26, 2008, 04:38:31 AM »
What was the point of mentioning your prior expert assistance/testimony if it had nothing to do with handloads and self-defense?

Factory ammo is cheap compared to the legal fees, bail, loss of the subject firearm to the evidence locker, etc. that come with an act of self-defense. 


I think you answered that with your own post, right?

Offline JokersWild

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Re: The Legal implications of hand-loads for self defense
« Reply #19 on: December 28, 2008, 08:54:48 AM »
Damned if we do, damned if we don't.

Better to be judged by 12 than carried by 6.

Offline nafterize

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Re: The Legal implications of hand-loads for self defense
« Reply #20 on: February 18, 2009, 02:03:55 AM »
I always advised my customers to carry what the local police were carrying. When I started, our local guys were using Winchester Ranger +p+ and recently have switched to Federal HST.

The theory is that you are using a "legitimate, tested, effective" round - because the police wouldn't use anything else, right?  ;)

YMMV.

Offline ejsandstrom

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Re: The Legal implications of hand-loads for self defense
« Reply #21 on: February 18, 2009, 07:22:03 AM »
I relaod and have full faith and confidence in my loads, however I have factory HPs in my HD weapons. I dont do it for any legal reason but I dont have to worry about every time I pull the trigger the gun will fire. I dont worry if I have some light target rponds or did I grab the real hot stuff?