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Getting Sued for Using Custom Ammo

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  • Getting Sued for Using Custom Ammo

    I've heard this argument before, and have been advised (as a reloader) that if I were to use my custom loads for off-duty self-defense that I could suffer a beating in a civil lawsuit here in California. As a matter of fact, this has been circulating for years, so to be on the safe side I now carry high quality factory ammo for self-defense instead of my favorite handloads.

    Isn't this paranoia? Is there one single documented incident in which a lawyer even MENTIONED the ammunition used in a home-defense or self-defense shooting? I have never caught any news on this issue, just the threat of a lawsuit. I suspect that this is nothing more than an urban legend.

    Comments, anyone?

  • #2
    I would advise against using handloads for self defense ammo. Can you imagine your lawer trying to explain to a jury why you opted for custom loads for better results (damage) rather than using standard factory stuff? You would be found guilty of murder, especially in Kalifornia. A jury is supposed to made up of your peers correct? I consider very FEW people peers to me.
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    • #3
      Originally posted by a320az
      I would advise against using handloads for self defense ammo. Can you imagine your lawer trying to explain to a jury why you opted for custom loads for better results (damage) rather than using standard factory stuff? You would be found guilty of murder, especially in Kalifornia. A jury is supposed to made up of your peers correct? I consider very FEW people peers to me.
      "A jury is supposed to made up of your peers correct? I consider very FEW people peers to me."

      By far the best response I've seen in a long damn time. Isnt that the truth though.
      Liberalism is a mental disorder
      -Resistance implies Guilt-

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      • #4
        I searched the Internet to see if I could find something concerning the use of reload ammo and liability. I found nothing. There is currently a bill (SB357) in California sponsored by Attorney General Bill Lockyer seeking to require that all handgun ammunition carry a unique serial number engraved on the case and on the bottom of every bullet. That
        Last edited by LawEnfWB; 08-23-2005, 12:02 AM.

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        • #5
          I guess my thought is why give some attorney even the chance to think of filing a lawsuit based on home loaded ammo. I was never really concerned about losing a suit, just the legal costs if I had to defend myself versus the department stepping in, and I'd bet the dept lawyer would love to decline defense based on non-approved ammo.

          Let them sue the factory that made the ammo and keep me out of it, if possible! I'd hate to be involved in setting some precedent.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by LawEnfWB
            Does it really make a difference what ammo is used or is more powerful, or that the reload was deliberately made to be more powerful/deadly?
            I dont want to quote you out of context here but.....

            It does make a difference, a huge one. Think about it.

            Guy A: Factory G19, 9mm Hydrashock from WalMart.
            Guy B: Modded G19, 9mm handloads from his garage.

            Which guy do you think the soccer moms will let off? The guy with the plain ole factory stuff. Or the guy who knows his weapons?

            Now, I will admit. I carry a modded G19, LE only rounds, and mags that are marked LE only. And I am not LE.(yet)

            Now, if it was brought down to the facts and the Constitution was interpreted properly you would be good to go. However, your fate would be decided upon the jury's interpretation of the 2nd.

            ETA: Oh and Mraughh, from reading your sig I can tell you are one of my peers....
            Last edited by a320az; 08-23-2005, 04:54 AM.
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            • #7
              Please dont flame me for carrying 9mm...
              Last edited by a320az; 08-23-2005, 04:55 AM.
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              • #8
                From what I remember, the "problem," is that you "believed you were getting into a gunfight, and made special ammunition yourself to prevail through it." Ie: Your spoiling for a shootout.

                This is even more amusing when you deal with private security, as if a security officer uses anything but factory in their duty weapon, or customizes their weapon, its argued that they were making it "more lethal" or "more powerful." Massad Ayoob (However his name is spelled) touched on this for both LE, Private Security, and Off-Duty/Citizen Carry issues.

                The more you stray from stock everything, the more the soccer mom thinks your a crazy NRA gun nut who was waiting to wack somebody.

                Oh, and flame on 9mm? Think of the poor security officers in Florida who were restricted to carrying .38 caliber revolvers. Most of them overcame that by loading up Corbon +P+ into .357s and hoped the round didn't hit a nun on the way out as it exploded the bad guy's chest.
                N. A. Corbier
                Moderator, SecurityInfoWatch Forums
                Visiting Commando Leader

                If you work in private security, feel free to register on Officer.com's sister site for security, forums.securityinfowatch.com

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                • #9
                  Cops can and will be sued for breaking wind in public so it should be of no surprsie that csutom ammo can and will cost you your career and income and assets. Why not just carry the issued ammo and be happy and have a roof over your head ?

                  I would not want to shoot an idiot and then have him and his attorney take my house, car and suv and income. It's just not worth the risk to be the macho cop with the kickass ammo.

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                  • #10
                    I apologies for posting here is this is a Law Enforcement only part of the forum. I checked above and did not see a notation that people other than LE were not allowed to post, and if I am in violation of the rules, I apologies.

                    I currently work in the legal field, and graduated from law school although have not passed the bar yet, but I'd like to offer my opinion on this issue.
                    (Ok, please...put the shotgun down...you have to be sporting...just use the handgun and leave something for someone else to shoot at!!)

                    Tort liability will likely be determined from the totality of the circumstances and the subjective and objective reasonableness of the actions taken.

                    Translated into English, were your actions, taken as a whole, reasonable to you at the time they were taken, and is a court (the finder of fact, judge or jury) willing to accept your definition of reasonable?

                    You may feel that when a suspect you are trying to cuff elbows you in the face, knees you in the balls and then reaches into his waistband the proper response is "shoot him till he drops".

                    Someone unfamiliar with guns may not know that handguns are not good stoppers, people who have been shot can still be dangerous, ectra...and so your decision, to shoot the suspect who just assaulted you and made for his waistband (golly...no one carries a handgun IWB, do they?? Gag...) isn't obvious to them. Explaining it to the finder of fact at trial (or before that which might end the ordeal on motions alone) is how you get the tire of fact to accept your decision as reasonable.

                    So, are hand loads likely to be a cause for concern? I would recommend not doing it for several reasons, the first of which is that an issue which is never brought up...is an issue which is never brought up.

                    Yes, it is something that can be dealt with by a competent attorney, but why should it have to come up? When the facts are on your side, argue the facts, when the law is on your side, argue the law, and when you have nothing, pound on the table.

                    Even in a good shoot you will have enough to worry about. I'm sure you all know of times when a good shoot, civilian self defense or law enforcement, has turned into the saga of a "disadvantaged minority youth killed in a hail of gunfire by the police(or insert your description of a white male authority figure)...".

                    Why add anything to the mix that you do not need to?

                    The second reason I would avoid hand loads is your own safety. Are you really better than Black Hills or Federal when it comes to loading? Maybe you can load to spec, but sealing the bullets for carry?
                    (If you are...um...let me know...lets talk about a load for my .38...)

                    The third reason I would avoid hand loads for carry and duty is forensics. I won't pretend to know more than I do, and if I am wrong I welcome the correction, but during a shooting investigation wouldn't they check powder burn patterns to determine distance from the muzzle and things like that? Were are they going to get a baseline sample from?

                    If you have a shooting with a glock 22 loaded with 155 grain gold dot loaded by pro-load or black hills, they can get exact samples of what was used for tests to show the distance via powder residue. Can they do it from your hand loads? Will you have to "manufacture evidence" after the fact for testing? Wouldn't you love to see the questioning on how the lab came into posession of the rounds used for testing...

                    Q: Were did you obtain the lot of ammo used for testing?

                    A: From the defendant.

                    Q Was this lot of ammo manufactured for the test?

                    A: Yes.

                    Q: By who?

                    A: The defendant.

                    NO THANK YOU.

                    Is the problem insurmountable? I don't think so.

                    I would simply ask one question before doing it, thought: Will you get anything from an hand load that is so significant that it cannot be obtained by the use of factory ammo?

                    In closing, I have never heard of a case were liability arose ONLY on the use of handloaded ammo in what was an otherwise clean shoot, however, I simply see no reason to introduce the issue and questions into what will be a terrible situation already.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Bodie
                      Cops can and will be sued for breaking wind in public so it should be of no surprsie that csutom ammo can and will cost you your career and income and assets. Why not just carry the issued ammo and be happy and have a roof over your head ?

                      I would not want to shoot an idiot and then have him and his attorney take my house, car and suv and income. It's just not worth the risk to be the macho cop with the kickass ammo.
                      The original question was if the guy were to use handloads OFF DUTY.
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                      • #12
                        This is one of a series of urban legends that Massad Ayoob started.
                        In answer to your question, to my knowledge no one has been able to document a court case where the use of custom ammo, a custom gun, or a custom holster was brought up in a wrongful death case.

                        Mitchell has it almost right. They may test for powder burns by shooting additional ammo, but as long as the source is the same as the round used, so what? Of course, if Mitchell goes over to the dark side (as a defense attorney), we may see a spate of these.

                        The trial will be based on the shooter's reasonable belief that someone faced immenent death or serious bodily harm. If that is proven, then the make, model, caliber, manufacturer, powder charge, or bullet used are all irrelevant. In other words, if it is a justified shoot, you are OK. If it is an unjustified shoot, you are done! Using factory ammo and a department issued gun will not help you - even having the Chief standing behind you yelling "SHOOT, SHOOT!" will not help you.

                        I carried a custom made gun for years, with no worries. Still do. I carry factory ammo, because a certain amount of it "fell off the ammo truck".

                        (And in my 'wrongful death' suit, they tried to bring in the make, model, and color of the issued truck I drove. So what? I wrote my report around the department UOF policy, and I won.)

                        Let not your heart be troubled. Carry a custom gun with handloaded ammo if you wish, just be darn careful of what you say and write after the fact.

                        Edited to add: Our use of force policy (I wrote parts of it) included that in an emergency, an officer was authorized to use ANY MEANS to defend him/her self. Tire irons, frying pans, fireplace pokers, rocks, anything! Kind of covers handloaded ammo.
                        Last edited by Sleuth; 08-23-2005, 01:28 PM.
                        "A man who has nothing which he cares about more than he does about his personal safety is a miserable creature who has no chance of being free, unless made and kept so by the existing of better men than himself."
                        John Stuart Mill

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                        • #13
                          Hand loads off duty ............. So your point .... he pops somebody he does it as a cop not as a civilian... so think please !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                          He can carry all the handloads he wants in his pocket just never shoot at a person with them.

                          If you are carrying off duty you ain't carrying cause you're not a cop.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Sleuth
                            This is one of a series of urban legends that Massad Ayoob started.
                            In answer to your question, to my knowledge no one has been able to document a court case where the use of custom ammo, a custom gun, or a custom holster was brought up in a wrongful death case.

                            Mitchell has it almost right. They may test for powder burns by shooting additional ammo, but as long as the source is the same as the round used, so what? Of course, if Mitchell goes over to the dark side (as a defense attorney), we may see a spate of these.
                            Dark side...humm...well...to do that, I would need to kill either the Emperor or Vader, as only two Sith are in existance at any given time. That not being practical at this time, I have looked into other areas for making money.

                            I tried making my own, but the federal government got ****y. I tried digging for natural gas, but the city told me that I was not allowed to drill on public streets into gas mains. I tried selling exotic animals, but after that little spat at the zoo near the python tank, well, lets just say that although they don't have venom, when you try to shove them into a backpack, they do bite...

                            Armed robery is too much work. Computer fraud...well, I'm not computer literate. B&E...I don't wanna work nights.

                            I can't sell used cars. I don't lie well enough.

                            I'm limited as to what I can do.

                            Shrug.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Bodie
                              Hand loads off duty ............. So your point .... he pops somebody he does it as a cop not as a civilian... so think please !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                              He can carry all the handloads he wants in his pocket just never shoot at a person with them.

                              If you are carrying off duty you ain't carrying cause you're not a cop.
                              I dont understand your post. Are you saying that off duty you are not a cop? If so, I thought that once you were sworn you were a cop 100% of the time. If I misunderstood your post just disregard.
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