New Gunshot Residue Method May Boost CSI Investigations

Crime scene investigations can often be long and painstaking. But in situations where a potential criminal is on the loose, every second counts. One of the most important classifications of evidence crime scene investigators handle is evidence related to guns, as firearms are used in the majority of serious crimes. And while the process of collecting and analyzing firearm related evidence can be painstakingly slow, a new scientific development promises to help speed up the process.

When analyzing what happens when a gun is fired, scientists Igor Lednev and Justin Bueno noticed that tiny burnt particles tend to spray in all directions. The presence and concentration of these particles on skin, clothing, furniture, and other nearby objects can help investigators determine who fired and gun, and get an idea where the gun was fired.

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The one problem with current techniques used to analyze gunfire residue is that, when they are used to help recreate a crime scene they tend to only give a foggy picture of what happened. Current techniques tend to look for heavy metal residue. But in the cases were newer bullets, which aren’t made with heavy metals, are concerned, the techniques can prove frustratingly inadequate.

In order to correct the deficiency, Lednev and Bueno’s team developed a process called gunshot residue fingerprinting. The new technique can identify a much larger variety of particles, and is less expensive than the current method. In order to develop the technique, the team analyzed chemicals which should be present when different kinds of ammunition are fired.

The implications of this new approach to the field of crime scene investigations are exciting. If CSI agents are able to better determine when a gun has been fired and when it hasn’t, this can help them to better determine the next most logical steps of an investigation, and may lead to additional clues and additional closed cases.