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Detection of Gunshot Primer Residue on Bone in an Experimental Setting—An Unexpected Finding

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Pork ribs with intact muscle tissue were used in an experimental attempt to identify bullet wipe on bone at distances from 1 to 6 feet with 0.45 caliber, full metal jacket ammunition. This resulted in the unexpected finding of primer-derived gunshot residue (GSR) deep within the wound tract. Of significance is the fact that the GSR was deposited on the bone, under the periosteum, after the bullet passed through a Ziploc® bag and c. 1 inch of muscle tissue. It is also important to note that the GSR persisted on the bone after the periosteum was forcibly removed. The presence of primer-derived GSR on bone provides the potential to differentiate gunshot trauma from blunt trauma when the bone presents an atypical gunshot wound. In this study, the presence of gunshot primer residue at a distance of 6 feet demonstrates the potential for establishing maximum gun-to-target distance for remote shootings.
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Keywords: SEM-EDX; ballistics; firearms examination; forensic anthropology; forensic science; gunshot residue; gunshot trauma

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Director, Forensic Institute for Research and Education, Middle Tennessee State University, Murfreesboro, TN. 2: Department of Anthropology, University of Tennessee at Knoxville, Knoxville, TN. 3: Special Agent Forensic Scientist, Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, Nashville, TN.

Publication date: March 1, 2010

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