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Gunshot Residue Matching Puts Shooters in Sights

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Technology that matches gunshot residue with specific ammunition brands is helping to close the loop on firearms offenders. Gunshot residue is commonly found on the clothing of the shooter and around the wound site of the gunshot victim.

Researchers from Flinders University in South Australia have used technology borrowed from the mining industry to match glass fragments from gunshot residue with specific ammunition. They found a majority of ammunition contained glass fragments that showed up in gunshot residue.

This method has now been used to link the residue with specific ammunition brands. It is an area there has been little research in as previous investigations focused on bullet casings.

Lead researcher Prof Paul Kirkbride said the research would change the way global law enforcement agencies identified shooters. “The gun crime in the United States is mainly high calibre or high calibre handguns, and there are different ammunition types that do have ground glass in them and we are trying to now investigate those,” he said.

“We realised that the glass that is present is likely to survive through the firing process and left unchanged. We found that ammunition is unique and effectively has a sort of fingerprint on the glass.”

Kirkbride said other methods had too many variables and were not as reliable. “A print on a cartridge case...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.