An experimental investigation of the indirect transfer and deposition of gunshot residue: Further studies carried out with SEM–EDX analysis

by Kenneth Ujevich

Experiments were undertaken in order to explore the potential for gunshot residue (GSR) particles to undergo tertiary transfer (a set of three clearly defined transfer events) and to be deposited on individuals in the vicinity of a firearm discharge. Samples were taken from hands following a series of test-firings. Scanning electron microscopy with energy dispersive X-ray specteoscopy (SEM–EDX) with automated detection and analysis software was used to determine the presence of GSR on these samples. As many as 22 particles were found to have undergone tertiary transfer via a series of handshakes following a firearm discharge. In one run, a particle measuring 49.19 μm was recovered from a tertiary transfer recipient. Significant numbers of particles were also recovered from bystanders, with as many as 36 being detected on a sample taken from an individual who was in the proximity of a firearm discharge. In regards to these results, the need to prevent unwanted transfer during the collection phase is highlighted, and the importance of acknowledging the possibility of secondary and tertiary transfers when reconstructing firearms incidents is also stressed.

James French, Ruth Morgan. “An experimental investigation of the indirect transfer and deposition of gunshot residue: Further studies carried out with SEM–EDX analysis.” Forensic Science International, Volume 247, February 2015, Pages 14-17, ISSN 0379-0738, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.forsciint.2014.10.023.

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