Suicide by Firearms

Suicides due to Handguns Suicides Due to Long Arms Suicides in General Movement of Firearms at the Scene Guns Found in the Hand Backspatter (Blowback) on the Hands of Shooters in Cases of Suicide Backspatter (Blowback) on Weapons in Cases of Contact Wounds Russian Roulette Accidental Deaths from Firearms Rifles and Shotguns Slam-Fires References Appendix A Stopping Power and Hollow-Point Pistol Ammunition Myths and Facts Appendix B The Forensic Autopsy in Gunshot Wound Cases

Addendum Centerfire Handgun Cartridges

There are scores of centerfire handgun cartridges. A few of the more common ones will be described. The .25 ACP, the smallest of the currently manufactured centerfire handgun cartridges, was introduced in the first decade of the twentieth century. The Figure 5.19 Unusual ball powder tattoo pattern resulting from shirt. The powder passed through the shirt, except for the center facing, where there were four layers of cloth rather than one. Arrow indicates entrance. Circular mark medial to...

Addendum Rifle Calibers

At present, at least 50 different caliber rifle cartridges are being manufactured in the United States. Some of these cartridges have been introduced recently, whereas others are almost obsolete with no weapons currently manufactured for them. Obsolete cartridges no longer manufactured are sometimes available from overseas sources as well as being manufactured by home reloaders or small specialized companies. Rifle cartridges that are not popular in the United States but are popular in other...

Ammunition Intended for Use In Indoor Ranges

In order to reduce lead pollution in indoor ranges, all the major U.S. ammunition manufacturers have introduced handgun ammunition loaded with lead free primers and bullets that either have the lead core completely enclosed (sealed) or are made of solid copper or zinc. Sealing the lead core is important in that lead vaporized from the exposed core at the base of the bullet may contribute more to atmospheric contamination than primer lead. Blount (CCI) produces Clean-Fire ammunition. The primers...

B

Figure 14.1 Self-inflicted intermediate-range gunshots with powder tattooing around the entrances. (A) Entrance of forehead from handgun. (B) Entrance of chest from sawed-off 12-gauge shotgun. too great for powder tattooing of the face. Powder escaping out the cylinder gap produced the tattooing of her wrists. Most people who commit suicide with a firearm, like suicide victims in general, do not leave a note notes are only left in approximately 25 of all suicides. Therefore, the absence of a...

Birdshot

The smallest lead birdshot is 12, which has a diameter of 0.05 in. (1.27 mm) the largest, commonly encountered, is BB shot 0.18 in or 4.57 mm (Table 8.1A). BB shot should not be confused with the copper-coated steel BB's used in airguns. Airgun BB's have a diameter of 0.175 in. (4.44 mm). The size of the shot in a shotgun shell usually is printed on the side of the tube. In shells where there is an overshot wad, the size of the shot may be printed upon this wad. Some shells are also marked with...

Bloody Bodies and Bloody Scenes

Is there life after death Trespass and find out. This property is protected by Smith & Wesson Violence as portrayed in the movies and television has traditionally been relatively bloodless. In real life, most gunshot scenes are quite bloody. As in many aspects of forensic pathology, this observation is not immutable. Some scenes show evidence of considerable bleeding some essentially none. In the latter case, hemorrhaging is internal (into the chest or abdominal cavities)or is prevented by...

Cast Bullets

On occasion, individuals are shot with pistol ammunition reloaded with cast bullets. These bullets can usually be recognized on x-ray by the deep lubricating grooves. Upon recovery of the bullets, they usually have a dull silver-gray color. The lead is obviously harder than that used in commercial bullets deep lubricating grooves are present, and the base of the bullet shows a circular marking caused by the sprue in the bullet casting mold (the sprue is the opening in the bullet mold through...

Editors Note

Vernon Geberth Photos

This textbook is part of a series entitled Practical Aspects of Criminal and Forensic Investigation. This series was created by Vernon J. Geberth, New York City Police Department Lieutenant Commander (Retired), who is an author, educator, and consultant on homicide and forensic investigations. This series has been designed to provide contemporary, comprehensive, and pragmatic information to the practitioner involved in criminal and forensic investigations by authors who are nationally...

Effect of Environmental Temperature on Bullet Velocity

Environmental temperature can significantly effect the velocity of a bullet. In tests conducted by the military using M-16 rifles, two rifles, having a rifling twist of 1 12, lost 167 ft sec and 109 ft sec, respectively, in muzzle velocity when the environmental temperature was decreased from 70 F to 0 F.29 Table 10.3 shows the results of the experiment with the two rifles at different temperatures. Table 10.3 Effect of Temperature on Bullet Velocity (weapons used, M-16 rifles) Table 10.3...

Fingerprints

In contrast to what is seen on television and in the movies or read in mystery novels, it is rare for an identifiable fingerprint to be left on a firearm, especially a handgun. Only a small surface area is suitable for leaving prints, and the recoil of the weapon causes the fingers to slide and produce smudges. Partial prints may be seen. Both the public and many police agencies do not realize, that identifiable fingerprints may be obtained from fired cartridge cases.9 Thus, ejected cartridge...

Gunshot Wounds

Practical Aspects of Firearms, Ballistics, and Forensic Techniques Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Catalog record is available from the Library of Congress. This book contains information obtained from authentic and highly regarded sources. Reprinted material is quoted with permission, and sources are indicated. A wide variety of references are listed. Reasonable efforts have been made to publish reliable data and information, but the author and the publisher cannot assume...

Info

Gunshot Wounds

Figure 5.11 Loose-contact wound with circular zone of soot around entrance. in seared zones, such as seen in near-contact wounds, the seared skin is heavily impregnated with soot, whereas in this impact zone it is not. This zone is often wider than the diameter of the barrel because the skin has been bent back around the end of the barrel, totally enclosing it. A loose-contact wound is produced when the muzzle of the weapon is held in very light contact with the skin at the time of discharge....

J

Figure 10.9 Sabot with open petals and rifling marks. Tests in which the .30-06 cartridge was fired in a Model 1903 Springfield rifle revealed muzzle velocities of 3861 to 3950 ft sec. Test firings were carried out at 3, 5, and 10 ft on paper targets. At 3 ft, the sabot entered the bullet hole. At 5 ft, the sabot impacted 2 cm to the right of the bullet hole of entrance at 10 ft, 8.9 cm to the right in one test and 16.5 cm to the right in a second. In all tests, the sabot impacted to the right...

Markings and Foreign Material on Bullets

Bullets may carry materials from an intermediary target into a body as well as material from a body out with the exiting bullet.27-28 Thus, examination of a bullet recovered from a body may reveal particles of glass, wood, or paint as well as fragments of the deceased's clothing. In one case, an individual shot himself while lying next to his wife. The bullet passed through his body, entering his wife's, where it was subsequently recovered. Tissue of his blood type, which was different from...

Military Ammunition Converted to Sporting Ammunition

Ammunition loaded with full metal-jacketed bullets cannot be used for hunting in the United States. Some individuals have attempted to sporter-ize such ammunition by cutting or grinding off the tip of a full metal-jacketed bullet, exposing the core, in an attempt to facilitate expansion. This is potentially dangerous in that the base of such bullets is open. On firing, pressure of the gases of combustion on the exposed core may cause it to be propelled out the tip of the bullet with deposition...

Miscellaneous Weapons and Ammunition

Captive Bolt Devices (Pistols) Bang Sticks Sympathetic Discharge of Rimfire Firearms New Forms of Handgun Ammunition Hollow-Point Design Miscellaneous Bullet Design Ammunition Intended for Use In Indoor Ranges NYCLAD Revolver Cartridges Frangible Bullets Armor-Piercing Handgun Ammunition KTW and Its Legacy Handgun Shot Cartridges Plastic Training Ammunition Flechettes Rubber and Plastic Bullets Blank Cartridge Injuries Electrical Guns Interchangeability of Ammunition in Weapons Markings and...

Nyclad Revolver Cartridges

This ammunition was originally manufactured by Smith & Wesson. When they stopped manufacturing ammunition, Federal purchased the exclusive manufacturing rights. These cartridges are loaded with nylon-coated lead bullets of roundnose, hollow-point and semi-wadcutter hollow-point. This black coating significantly reduces the amount of lead particles in the air of firing ranges. Rifling is impressed on the coating and not on the lead. If these bullets go through thick bone, the nylon jacketing...

Plastic Wads in Rifle Bullets

Some Russian 7.62 X 39 hunting ammunition imported into the United States is loaded with bullets having a plastic base wad. The bullets have an overall spitzer configuration with an open tip (a hollow point) and an open base. The mild steel core of the military round has been replaced with a lead core. This core, however, does not extend the full length of the jacket so that the base is potentially empty. Into this base has been inserted a white plastic wad (Figure 7.22A). On entering the body,...

References

United States Firearms, The First Century 1776-1875. New York Winchester Press, 1971. 2. La Garde, L. A. Gunshot Injuries. New York William Wood & Co., 1916. 3. Longmore, T. Gunshot Injuries. London Longmans Green and Co., 1S95. 4. Scott, R. Projectile Trauma. An Inquiry into Bullet Wounds. New York Crown, (date). 5. Edwards, W. B. Civil War Guns. The Stackpole Co., Harrisburg, PA, 1962. 6. Fackler, M .L. Wound ballistics a review of common misconceptions. JAMA 259 (1S)...

Shot

Three general types of lead shot have been made drop or soft shot, which is essentially pure lead chilled or hard shot, which is lead hardened by the addition of antimony, and plated shot. The last is lead shot coated with a thin coat of copper or nickel to minimize distortion on firing, thereby maintaining a good aerodynamic shape and increasing the range. Winchester-Western sells their copper plated shot under the trade name of Lubaloy shot. A fourth category of shot is now widely available....

Shot Cartridges

In addition to the regular Long Rifle cartridges with which most people are familiar, .22 Long Rifle Shot cartridges are also available. As loaded by Federal, the cartridges have a crimped metallic mouth and contain approximately 25 gr. of 12 shot. Winchester manufactured a similar shot cartridge loaded with 37 gr. of 12 shot. The cartridge loaded by CCI contains 31 gr. (165 pellets) of 12 pellets in a blue plastic capsule. Muzzle velocity for this particular round is said to be 950 ft sec. CCI...

Springfield X mm

The .30-06 Springfield cartridge was adopted in 1906 as the official military cartridge of the U.S. Armed Forces. It was replaced by the .308 Winchester (7.62 X 51 mm) in the early 1950s. Hunting bullets loaded in it weigh 110, 125, 150, 180, and 220 gr. Full metal-jacketed military cartridges are available. Muzzle velocities range from 3370 to 2400 ft sec, depending on the weight of the bullet. The M2 military ball round weighed 150 gr. (9.72 g). Muzzle velocity was 2740 ft s muzzle energy...

Winchester X mm

The .308 Winchester round was introduced in 1952. It is used in medium and heavy machine guns. Military bullets are full metal-jacketed and usually weigh 15G gr. Civilian rounds are loaded with 11G-, 125-, 15G-, 1SG-, and 2GG-gr. hunting bullets. In ballistic performance it is approximately equal to the .3O-O6 cartridge. Muzzle velocities range from 31SG to 245G ft sec. The standard military round is the M-SG. It has a 15G gr. (9.72 g) bullet with a muzzle velocity of 275G ft s (S3S m s) and...

Wounds Due to Handguns

Contact Wounds over Bone Near-Contact Wounds Hair Gas Injuries Intermediate-Range Wounds Cylinder Gap Distant Wounds Addendum Centerfire Handgun Cartridges .25 ACP (6.35 X 16) .32 ACP (7.65 X 17SR) .32 Smith & Wesson and .32 Smith & Wesson Long .38 Smith & Wesson (9 X 20R) .38 Special .357 Magnum .380 ACP (9 X 19 mm 9-mm Kurz 9-mm Corto 9-mm Browning Short) 9 X 18-mm Makarov .38 Colt Super Auto (9 X 23R) 9-mm Luger (9-mm Parabellum 9 X 19-mm) .40 Smith and Wesson .45 ACP (11.43 X 23)...

Wounds from Centerfire Rifles

Centerfire Rifle Bullets Centerfire Rifle Wounds Powder Tatooing X-rays Perforating Tendency of Centerfire Rifle Bullets Military Ammunition Converted to Sporting Ammunition Plastic Wads in Rifle Bullets Addendum Rifle Calibers .223 Remington (5.56 X 45 mm) 5.45 X 39 .243 Winchester (6.16 X 51 mm) .270 Winchester 7-mm Magnum 7.62 X 39 30 M-1 Carbine (7.62 X 33 mm) .30-30 Winchester .30-06 Springfield (7.62 X 63 mm) .308 Winchester (7.62 X 51 mm) 7.62 X 54R (7.62-mm Mosin-Nagent) References

Perforating Tendency of Centerfire Rifle Bullets

Full metal-jacketed rifle bullets almost invariably exit if the deceased is the primary target and is within a few hundred yards of the muzzle of the weapon. The 5.56 X 45 mm round is the only full metal-jacketed round that has a tendency to stay in the body. Most hunting bullets of medium and large caliber also exit the body. Varmint cartridges such as the .222 or .22-250 tend to stay in the body. With a cartridge such as the .243, it depends on bullet weight, the area of the body struck and...

Handgun Shot Cartridges

Handgun cartridges loaded with lead shotare availableinvariouscalibers, e.g., .22 Long Rifle, .38 .357. This ammunition, often called birdshot or snakeshot, is used to kill small game usuallyvarmints orsnakesat close range. The rimfire versions of these cartridges have been discussed in Chapter 6. Blount (CCI) manufactures centerfire handgun shot cartridges in four calibers 9 mm, .38 .357 Magnum, .44 Magnum, and .45 ACP. The first three of these cartridges are loaded with a plastic capsule,...

Detection of Gunshot Residues

The ability to determine whether an individual has fired a firearm is of great significance in the investigation of both homicides and suicides. Thus, over the years a number of tests have been developed in an attempt to fill this need. The first such test was the paraffin test also known as the Dermal Nitrate or diphenylamine test.1 It wasintroducedinthe UnitedStatesin 1933 by Teodoro Gonzalez of the Criminal IdentificationLaboratory, Mexico City police headquarters. In this test, thehands...

Electrical Guns

The 1970s saw the introduction of the first electrical gun the Taser. The Taser is a device that uses electrical current to immobilize victims without killing them.26 Superficially resembling a flashlight, it has a gray plastic body in which there is a flashlight bulb and lens. Each cassette contains two barbs connected to the case by approximately 18 ft of wire. The weapon is aimed and fired by pointing the flashlight and pressing the trigger. This procedure allows a spark to ignite the...

Suicides Due to Long Arms

In suicides with long arms (rifles and shotguns), just as with handguns, the preferred sites are the head, chest, and abdomen, in that order. There is, however, very little difference in the percentage of head wounds between the sexes (Table 14.2). Thus, 69 of the men and 65 of the women had entrance wounds of the head.3 The percentage of people shooting themselves in the head with rifles and shotguns is not as great as with handguns. This may be due to the fearsome reputation of these weapons....

M Carbine X mm

The .30 M-1 Carbine cartridge is neither a rifle cartridge nor a pistol cartridge. The round was originally developed for the U.S. military M-1 Carbine. Commercially, this round is loaded with a 110-gr. soft- or hollow-point bullet. The military round is loaded with a 110-gr. 7 g full metal-jacketed bullet. Muzzle velocity is around 1975 ft s 579 m s muzzle energy 955 ft-lb 1173 J . The M-1 Carbine should not be confused with the M-1 Rifle the Garand , which was chambered for the .30-06...

Black Powder Firearms

Black powder weapons, on rare occasions, are involved in fatal shootings. Most of these cases involve percussion revolvers. As these weapons have rifled barrels, rifling marks will appear on the spherical or conical bullets fired from them. In addition, the loading rammer used to seat the bullet in the chamber may leave markings on the bullet of sufficient clarity and with individual characteristics to make ballistics comparison possible. Figure 2.9 shows a .44-caliber ball removed from the arm...

DNA Typing of Tissue on Bullets

A bullet found at a scene may be linked to the specific individual through which the bullet had passed by examining tissue deposited on the bullet. This is possible even if no tissue is visible on macroscopic examination of the bullet and it is full metal-jacketed. As a bullet passes through a body, tissue is deposited on its surface even if the tissue is not visible. The tissue can be removed by swabbing the bullet the DNA replicated and DNA fingerprinting performed by short tandem repeat STR...

Flechettes

During the Vietnam war, the United Statesmilitaryusedammunitionloaded with steel flechettes. A flechette is a small arrow-shaped projectile with a metal tail fin. It is made in both 8- and13-gr. form. The8-gr. flechette, which is the more common type, measures 1 mm in diameter by approximately 2.7 cm in length. Flechettes were fired from 90-mm recoilless rifles, 90-mm guns, the 105-mm howitzer, and the 2.75-in. air-to-ground rocket. The 90-mm gun fired from 4100 to 5600 8-gr. steel flechettes...

Breitenecker Shotgun

New York Winchester Press, 1973. 2. Keith, E. Shotguns by Keith. New York Bonanza Book, 1967. 3. Labisky, W. The ever-changing shotshell story. Gun Digest. Northfield, IL Digest Books Inc., 1973. 4. Franovich, J. 20-gauge filler wads used in 12-gauge shotgun shells. AFTE Journal 28 2 92-94, 1996. 6. Harruff, R. C. Comparison of contact shotgun wounds of the head produced by different gauge shotguns. J. Forensic Sci. 40 5 801-804, 1995. 7. Dowling, G. P., Dickinson A....

Range Determination in Decomposed Bodies

Gunshot Wounds Images Caliber

Determination as to whether a gunshot wound in a decomposing body is either close-range or distant can be difficult for a number of reasons. First are the changes of decomposition itself. Decomposition results in a blackish discoloration of the skin and subcutaneous tissue, which can either simulate or conceal soot. There is slippage of the epidermis, which can produce complete loss of powder tattooing and soot. Blood around the wound clots and dries out. Fragments of this desiccated blood can...

Gunshot

Best Pictures

Practical Aspects of Firearms, Ballistics, and Forensic Techniques OllklOIIAT Written by the nation's hIIN HII I foremost authority on fillH11O gunshot wounds and Ml Il II N IIX forensic techniques as they relate to firearm injuries, Gunshot second edition Wounds Practical Aspects of Firearms, Ballistics, and Forensic Techniques, Second Edition provides critical information on gunshot wounds and the weapons and ammunition used to inflict them. The book describes practical aspects of ballistics wound ballistics the classification of various wounds caused by handguns, rifles, and shotguns autopsy technique and procedure and laboratory analysis relating to weapons and gunshot evidence.

Wounds from Shotguns

Shotguns differ from rifles and handguns in construction, ammunition, ballistics, and use. Rifles and handguns fire a single projectile down a rifled barrel. Shotguns have a smooth bore. Although they can fire a single projectile, they are usually employed to fire multiple pellets. Rifled shotgun barrels, intended for use with slugs, are available. Shotguns may be autoloaders, pump slide action , over unders, side-by-side, bolt action or single shot. Some shotguns intended for military and or...

Blunt Force Injuries from Firearms

Gunshot Injuries Pictures

Occasionally a firearm will be used not only to shoot a person but to beat that individual. Thus, individuals will be seen with evidence of pistol whipping. This usually takes the form of semicircular or triangular lacerations of the scalp or forehead produced by the butt of the gun. Underlying depressed Figure 9.4 A Triangular laceration with underlying depressed skull fracture caused by pistol butt. B Rectangular lacerations of scalp from magazine well and base of magazine of 9-mm pistol....

Ammunition

Hollow Point Gunshot Wounds Photos

A small-arms cartridge consists of a cartridge case, a primer, propellant gunpowder , and a bullet or projectile Figure 1.14 . Blank cartridges are sealed with paper disks instead of a bullet or have a crimped neck. Dummy cartridges have neither a primer nor powder. Some dummy cartridges contain inert granular material that simulates powder. Cartridge cases are usually made of brass, a composition of 70 copper and 30 zinc. Less commonly, they are made of steel or aluminum. Zinc and Figure 1.14...

Small Arms

Gunshot Wounds From Auto Hollowpoint

There are five general categories of small arms handguns, rifles, shotguns, submachine guns, and machine guns. There are four basic types of handguns 4. Auto-loading pistols automatics Single-shot pistols. A single-shot pistol has one firing chamber integral with the barrel, which must be loaded manually each time the weapon is to be fired Figure 1.1A . Derringers. They are a variant of single-shot pistols. Derringers are small pocket firearms having multiple barrels, each of which is loaded...

Distant Gunshot Wounds

Caliber Gunshot Wound

In distant wounds, the only marks on the target are those produced by the mechanical action of the bullet in perforating the skin. Figure 4.15 A Two contact wounds of chest with deposit of powder soot above the wound entrances B top view of .22 caliber starter pistol barrel with vent visible arrow . Figure 4.15 A Two contact wounds of chest with deposit of powder soot above the wound entrances B top view of .22 caliber starter pistol barrel with vent visible arrow .

Suicides Due to Handguns

Forensic Soot Palm

The location of the self-inflicted wound varies depending on the type of the weapon, the sex of the victim, and whether the victim is right- or left-handed. In individuals who shoot themselves with handguns, the most common sites for the entrance wound are the head 81 , the chest 17 , and the abdomen 2 , in that order Table 14.1 . There is some difference by sex Table 14.1 in that a smaller percentage of women 72 shoot themselves in the head than do men 83.5 . Table 14.1 Sites of Suicidal...

243 Winchester Wounds To Humans

Lead Snowstorm Xray Rifle

Figure 7.22 A Fired Russian 7.62 x 39 soft-point bullet with plastic wad extruding from base. B Chest x-ray of individual shot six times in chest with this ammunition and showing lead snowstorm. Figure 7.22 A Fired Russian 7.62 x 39 soft-point bullet with plastic wad extruding from base. B Chest x-ray of individual shot six times in chest with this ammunition and showing lead snowstorm. The .223 Remington cartridge was introduced in the Armalite AR-15 rifle the precursor of the M-16 in 1957. It...

M16 Bullet Wounds

Self Inflicted Gunshot Wound

Figure 14.5 Lacerations of palm and fifth finger from gas escaping from cylinder gap of .357 Magnum revolver. Hand was around cylinder at time of discharge. producing a wound of the forehead that had all the characteristics of a primary contact wound Figure 14.6 . In the head, the most common site for a handgun entrance wound is the temple. Although most right-handed individuals shoot themselves in the right temple and left-handed individuals in the left temple, this pattern is not absolute. In...

Discharge of a Weapon

Black Powder Muzzle Flash

Now that we have attained a basic knowledge of firearms and ammunition, let us consider the sequence of events that occurs when one brings the two elements together. Pulling the trigger causes release of the firing pin. This strikes the primer, crushing it, igniting the primer composition, and producing an intense flame. The flame enters the main chamber of the cartridge case through one or more vents, igniting the powder and producing a large quantity of gas and heat. This gas, which may be...

Intermediate Range Wounds

Intermediate Range Gunshot Wound

An intermediate-range gunshot wound is one in which the muzzle of the weapon is away from the body at the time of discharge yet is sufficiently close so that powder grains emerging from the muzzle strike the skin producing powder tattooing this is the sine qua non of intermediate-range gunshot wounds. In addition to the powder tattooing, there may be blackening of the skin or material around the entrance site from soot produced by combustion of the propellant. The size and density of the area...

Intermediary Targets

Shrapnel Wounds

If a centerfire rifle bullet passes through an intermediary target, such as a wall or door, before striking an individual, the severity of the wound produced may be much greater than if the same bullet had not perforated the target. If the intermediary target is of sufficient thickness and resistance, the bullet will destabilize be deformed or even break up. Such a bullet when it strikes the victim will more readily lose kinetic energy, thus, possibly increasing the severity of the wound. This...

Wounds from Caliber Rimfire Weapons

High Speed Gunshot Wounds

The most popular and most commonly fired cartridge in the United States is the .22 rimfire. It is estimated that over 2.2 billion rounds of this ammunition are produced each year in the United States. There are four types of .22 rimfire ammunition the .22 Short, the .22 Long, the .22 Long Rifle and the .22 Winchester Magnum rimfire Figure 6.1 . The Flobert BB cap was the ancestor of the .22 rimfire cartridge. It was developed in 1845 by necking down a percussion cap and inserting a lead ball....

Frangible Bullets

Centerfire handgun ammunition, and to a lesser degree rifle ammunition, loaded with frangible bullets are now produced by all major ammunition manufacturers. The bullets are constructed of various materials depending on the manufacturer copper powder compressed under high pressure copper with a polymer binding agent powdered tungsten, copper and a nylon matrix twisted strands of zinc and powdered iron encased in an electroplated jacket. Kaplan et al. tested frangible ammunition composed of...

Interchangeability of Ammunition in Weapons

Special Shot Wounds

Recovery of a bullet of a particular caliber from a body does not necessarily indicate that the weapon used to fire this missile was of the same caliber as the cartridge in which the bullet was loaded. Certain weapons will chamber and fire ammunition of a caliber different from that for which they are chambered. Some automatic pistols are capable of firing revolver ammunition, and some revolvers can fire automatic ammunition. The .32-caliber revolver is well known for its ability to chamber and...

Guns Found in the Hand

Gunshot Wound Hand

Garavaglia and Talkington studied 498 cases of suicide from gunshot wounds 365 from handguns and 133 from long arms to determine in how many cases the weapon remained in the hand and what factors, if any, predisposed to this.6 They found that in 24.1 120 of the 498 cases, the gun was in the hand in 69 344 on or touching the body or within one foot of it, and in 7 34 of the cases greater than a foot away. Of the 34 guns more than a foot from the body, four 4 were long guns 3 of all long guns and...

ACP x SR

Hollow Point Gunshot Wounds Photos

The .32 ACP was introduced in 1899 by Fabriqu Nationale for the first successful semiautomatic pistol ever manufactured. It is used extensively in Figure 5.20 Entrance wound of back showing absence of abrasion ring. The bullet was a semi-jacketed .357 Magnum. Figure 5.20 Entrance wound of back showing absence of abrasion ring. The bullet was a semi-jacketed .357 Magnum. Europe. Czechoslovakia manufactured a submachine gun for it, the Scorpion. The cartridge is semirimmed and will chamber and...

Behavior of Ammunition and Gunpowder in Fires

Occasionally a story appears in a newspaper describing how fire fighters fought a blaze in a sporting goods store as bullets from exploding ammunition whizzed by and cans of gunpowder exploded around them. Although this type of story makes fine newspaper copy, it bears no relation to what actually happens in a fire involving ammunition and gunpowder. Smokeless powder is used in all modern cartridges. When it is ignited in a gun, heat, and gas are produced, both of which are confined initially...

Backspatter

Backspatter is the ejection of blood and tissue from a gunshot wound of entrance. While blood and tissue are often ejected from exit wounds, this is not the case for entrance wounds. The occurrence and degree of backspatter depends on the anatomical location of the wound, the range and the caliber of the weapon. A contact wound of the head from a large-caliber weapon is more likely to produce backspatter than a distant wound of the torso from a small-caliber weapon. Backspatter is important...

New Forms of Handgun Ammunition

Hollow Point Gunshot Wounds Photos

Up to the mid 1960s, commercial handgun bullet design had not changed since the early 1900s. Handgun bullets were either full metal-jacketed or all lead. Lead bullets were roundnose or, less commonly, wadcutter or semi-wadcutter. Recovery of a full metal-jacketed bullet meant that the individual had been shot with an automatic pistol an all-lead bullet of medium or large caliber indicated a revolver a small lead bullet a .22. The 1960s saw the introduction of semi-jacketed soft-point and...

Gunshot Wounds Through Clothing

In gunshot wound cases, examination of the clothing is often as important as examination of the body. The interposing of clothing between the muzzle of the gun and the skin can alter the appearance of close-range gunshot wounds of the body. Clothing can prevent soot or powder, either completely or in part, from reaching the skin as well as producing a redistribution of this powder and soot. In hard contact wounds of the body, where soot and powder ordinarily would be driven completely into the...

Assault Rifles

The term Assault Rifle refers to an auto-loading rifle having a large capacity 20 rounds or more detachable magazine, capable of full automatic fire and firing an intermediate rifle cartridge. This term has been corrupted by the media, politicians and the bureaucracy to include virtually all self-loading weapons that look ugly and or mean. Weapons that fire pistol ammunition, e.g., Intratec Tec-9's, Cobray M-11's, are not assault rifles by virtue of their firing pistol ammunition and that they...

Distant Wounds

In distant gunshot wounds, the muzzle of the weapon is sufficiently far from the body so that there is neither deposition of soot nor powder tattooing. For centerfire handguns, distant gunshot wounds begin beyond 24 in. 60 cm from muzzle to target for cartridges loaded with flake powder and beyond 42 in. 105 cm for cartridges loaded with ball powder. The exact range depends on the particular weapon and ammunition and can be determined exactly only by experimentation with the specific weapon and...

An Introduction to the Classification of Gunshot Wounds

Contact Wounds Near-Contact Wounds Intermediate-Range Wounds Cylinder Gap Silencers Muzzle Brakes Compensators Flash Suppressors Gas Ports Vents Miscellaneous Powder Patterns Distant Gunshot Wounds Entrance Versus Exit Wounds Entrance Wounds Exit Wounds Miscellaneous Entrance Wounds Intermediary Targets Stippling Powder Tattooing and Pseudo-Powder Tattooing Caliber Determination from Entrance Wounds

The Forensic Autopsy in Gunshot Wound Cases

The forensic autopsy differs from the hospital autopsy in its objectives and relevance. In addition to determining the cause of death, the forensic pathologist must establish the manner of death natural, accidental, suicidal, homicidal or undetermined , the identity of the deceased if unknown, and the time of death or injury. The forensic autopsy may involve collection of evidence from the body, which can be used to either incriminate or exonerate an individual charged with a crime determine...

Physical Activity Following Gunshot Wounds

Gunshot The Head With Magnum

An individual may sustain a fatal gunshot wound and yet engage in physical activity.1-2 Experienced forensic pathologists, not uncommonly, encounter cases in which an individual, after incurring a fatal gunshot wound of the heart, is able to walk or run hundreds of yards and engage in strenuous physical activity prior to collapse and death. In one case seen by the author, a young man was shot in the left chest at a range of 3 to 4 ft with a 12-gauge shotgun firing 7 1 2 shot. The pellets...

Ab

Gunshot Clothing

Figure 12.3 Contact wound of body through two layers of cloth. Note the appearance of the wound in chest, which simulates a loose contact. Figure 12.3 Contact wound of body through two layers of cloth. Note the appearance of the wound in chest, which simulates a loose contact. Complete absorption of the soot and powder by clothing can occur in what ordinarily would be called an intermediate range wound. The resultant absence of powder tattooing on the skin results in an intermediate-range wound...

Contact Wounds

In contact wounds, the muzzle of the weapon is held against the surface of the body at the time of discharge. Contact wounds may be hard, loose, angled, or incomplete a variation of angled . Hard-Contact Wounds. In hard-contact wounds, the muzzle of the weapon is jammed hard against the skin, indenting it, so that the skin envelops the muzzle. In hard contact wounds, the immediate edges of the entrance are seared by the hot gases of combustion and blackened by the soot Figure 4.1 . This soot is...

Cytology on Bullets and Clothing

If a bullet passes through a body or intermediary target, or ricochets off a hard surface, fragments of tissue or target material may adhere to or be imbedded in the bullet. If the bullet is a hollow point, a relatively large wad of this material may be deposited in the cavity. Recovery and identification of foreign material from a bullet may identify the organs or intermediary object perforated or prove that the bullet was a ricochet. Nonorganic material, such as aluminum from a window screen...

Foreword

This Second Edition of Gunshot Wounds Practical Aspects of Firearms, Ballistics, and Forensic Techniques, written by Vincent J. M. Di Maio, M.D. has been greatly expanded to include over 78 new photographs with references and discussions not covered in the original text. Dr. Di Maio has taken his personal observations, experience and research of gunshot wounds and firearms to create an extremely practical hands-on guide. Guns continue to be the most frequently used weapons in murder and...

Reaction Response Times in Handgun Shootings

Thoracic Gunshot Wounds

Sooner or later a medical examiner will become involved in a shooting where an individual claims to have shot at another individual facing them but, at autopsy, the gunshot wound is found to be in the side or back. The question then arises as to whether the victim, on seeing the gun pointed towards them, or reacting to another outside stimulus, would have had sufficient time to turn 90 to 180 degrees in the time from when the shooter initiated the shooting process and the bullet hit. Cases such...

Sympathetic Discharge of Rimfire Firearms

Shoulder With Bullet

In cheap .22 rimfire revolvers, sympathetic discharges may occur on firing. Sympathetic discharge occurs when, on firing a revolver, there is not only discharge of the cartridge stuck by the firing pin but also of a cartridge in an adjacent chamber. Such multiple discharges were quite common in percussion revolvers when a spark from a discharging round would ignite the black powder in other cylinders. In sympathetic discharge of .22 rimfire revolvers, discharge of a cartridge by the firing pin...

Wounds Seen in The Emergency Room

It is quite common for a pathologist at autopsy to discover gunshot wounds missed by the police at the scene or physicians in an emergency room. Emergency room physicians often miss head wounds because of long hair and back wounds because they fail to look at the patient's back. They also confuse entrances with exits. In a study of 46 cases of fatal multiple or exiting gunshot wounds by Collins and Lantz, 24 52.2 were misinterpreted by trauma specialists emergency medicine, trauma surgery and...

Blank Cartridge Injuries

A blank is a cartridge containing powder but no bullets or pellets. It is intended to produce noise. Blanks are generally loaded with ultra-fast burning powder that detonates rather than burns. The case itself may appear like any other case in this caliber or may have a rosette crimped end. The wad can cause injury to a person immediately in front of the gun. If the wad is removed and a bullet is substituted, pressure generated by the ultra-fast burning powder will explode the gun. A number of...

Caliber Determination from Entrance Wounds

The caliber of the bullet that caused an entrance wound in the skin cannot be determined by the diameter of the entrance. A .38-caliber 9-mm bullet can produce a hole having the diameter of a .32 caliber 7.65-mm bullet and vice versa. The size of the hole is due not only to the diameter of the bullet but also to the elasticity of the skin and the location of the wound. An entrance wound in an area where the skin is tightly stretched will have a diameter different from that of a wound in an area...

Suicides in General

Bullet Wound Head

Suicides in which multiple gunshot wounds are present are uncommon, but not rare. These wounds may involve only one area, e.g., the head, or multiple areas, such as the head and chest. Multiple gunshot wounds confined exclusively to the head are the least common, whereas those of the chest are the most common. A lack of knowledge of anatomy, flinching at the time the trigger is pulled, defective ammunition, ammunition of the wrong caliber, or just missing a vital organ, account for such...

M. Fackler Wound Ballistic 2011

R. Ballistic characteristics of wounding agents. In Beyer, J.C. ed , Wound Ballistics, Washington, D.C. Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, 1962. 2. Callender, G. R. and French, R. W. Wound ballistics studies in the mechanism of wound production by rifle bullets. Mil. Surg. 77 177-201, 1935. 3. Fackler, M. L Wound Ballistics A Review of Common Misconceptions. JAMA 259 18 2730-2736, 1988. 4. Amato, J. J. Billy, L. J., Lawson, N. S.,...

Correct Handling of Deaths from Firearms

Circular Defect Gunshot

The correct handling of a death from gunshot wounds begins at the scene. Here valuable evidence on the body can be lost or altered and bogus evidence may be inadvertently introduced through mishandling of the body. Before a body is touched, let alone examined, its position and appearance should be documented photographically and diagrammatically. The most important rule at the scene is to handle the body as little as possible so as not to dislodge trace evidence that may be clinging to garments...

Bullet Wipe

Bullet holes of entrance in the skin may have a gray coloration to the abrasion ring. This gray rim around the entrance is very common, and more prominent, in clothing, where it is called bullet wipe see Chapter 12 . Bullet wipe consists principally of soot, deposited on the surface of the bullet as it moves down the barrel, which is rubbed off the bullet by the skin or clothing as it penetrates the body. In the case of revolver bullets, some of this material may be lubricant as well. Bullet...

Accidental Deaths from Firearms

Derringer Mechanism

In order to decide whether a death from gunshot wound is an accident, one should know the circumstances leading up to and surrounding the death who was present, the findings at the scene, the type of weapon, the result of an examination of the weapon by a firearms examiner, the findings at autopsy, and the results of the toxicology study. The number of deaths in the U.S. from accidental gunshot wounds has steadily declined since 1970. In 1970, there were 2406 such cases in 1992, 1409.1 Even...

Bullet Emboli

Vascular embolization of a bullet is an uncommon occurrence. When it does occur, it usually involves the arterial system. Embolization should be suspected whenever there is a penetrating bullet wound with failure to discover the bullet in the expected region or to visualize the bullet on routine x-ray.9 In the author's first encounter with a case of bullet embolization, he spent seven hours looking for a bullet in the chest and abdomen, when it was in the femoral artery there was no x-ray...

Gunshot Wounds Pictures

9mm Gunshot Wounds Chest Ray

X-rays are invaluable in the evaluation of gunshot wounds. They should be taken in all gunshot wound cases, especially those in which there appears to be an exit wound. X-rays are useful for a variety of reasons 1. To see whether the bullet or any part of it is still in the body. 3. To locate for retrieval small fragments deposited in the body by a bullet that has exited. 4. To identify the type of ammunition or weapon used prior to autopsy or to make such an identification if it cannot be made...

Cartridge Cases

Examination of a fired cartridge case may make possible the identification of a weapon in terms of type, make, and model. The presence of magazine markings, the type of breech-block mark, and the size, shape, and location of ejector and extractor marks are important imprints in making such identification. The size, shape, and location of the firing pin on fired rimfire cartridge cases can also be used to determine the make of the weapon. The appearance of the firing pin imprint from centerfire...

Ammunition Myths and Facts

In the 1970s, a major controversy over the use of hollow-point handgun ammunition by police agencies erupted. The arguments against the use of this ammunition were generally emotional, with claims of mutilating wounds and organs reduced to unidentifiable chopped meat. Most of the arguments heard for and against the use of hollow-point handgun ammunition were based on myths, false assumptions, and second-hand stories spread by both opponents and proponents of this type of ammunition. From the...

Comparison of Bullets

Skid Mark Bullet Cartridge

When a gun is discharged, the bullet is forced down the barrel by the gases of combustion. Both class and individual characteristics are imparted to the bullet, whether it is lead or jacketed. Because lead is softer, one might postulate that bullet markings on lead bullets are more distinctive than those found on jacketed bullets. In actual practice, markings on the jacketed bullets are usually superior, because the jacket of harder metal is less likely to have the rifling marks wiped off by...

Centerfire Rifle Bullets

Remington Bronze Point Bullets

Centerfire rifle bullets differ in construction from handgun bullets in that rifle bullets have to have either full or partial metal jacketing. This is necessary because of the high velocities at which rifle bullets are propelled down a barrel. If the bullets were lead or lead alloy, these high velocities would result in the lead being stripped from the surface of the bullet by the rifling grooves. Some handloaders will load centerfire rifle cartridges with cast lead bullets. In such cases,...

Gunshot Suicide

22lr Suicide

When a revolver is fired, gas, soot, and powder emerge not only from the end of the muzzle but also from the gap between the cylinder and the barrel see Figure 2.11 . This material emerges, fan-like, at an approximate right angle to the long axis of the weapon. If the revolver is in close proximity to the body at the time of discharge, there may be searing of the skin, deposition of soot or even powder tattooing from gas and powder escaping from the cylinder gap. The tattooing will be...

Location of Fatal Gunshot Wounds

There have been no extensive civilian studies to show the location of fatal gunshot wounds in the body in non-suicide cases. The U.S. Army has conducted a number of studies involving combat casualties.21-23 The most recent one, and probably the most applicable in view of changes in medical therapy, was the WDMET study from the Vietnam war.21 This study found that, although the head and neck constituted only 6.5 of the body surface, wounds of this region accounted for37.2 of fatalgunshot wounds....

Sawed Off Shotguns

Test firings, by the author, of sawed-off shotguns at ranges of 21 ft or less revealed that decreasing the barrel length of a cylinder-bore shotgun has no significant effect on the size of the pattern until the barrel has been sawed off to less than 9 in. At this point, the patterns begin to open up significantly. Moreau et al. found that with birdshot, as the barrel length decreased, any change in the size of the pattern produced depended on the brand of ammunition. Patterns either did not...

EDX for Examination of Clothes

A less commonly used method of examining clothing in order to make range determination involves the use of energy dispersive x-ray EDX . The edges of the entrance hole are analyzed for the presence of antimony, barium, lead, and copper. Multiple readings are taken at varying distances from this hole. Thus, readings will be taken at 1, 2, 3, etc., inches from the 12 o'clock position of the hole, followed by additional readings taken in a similar manner from the 3, 6, and 9 o'clock positions. The...

The Autopsy Report

In preparing an autopsy report in a death caused by gunshot wounds, it is always best to group the description of wounds in one area labeled Evidence of Injury, rather than scattering this information throughout the protocol. Thus, when a bullet entering the left chest perforates the left lung, the heart, the right lung, and exits the back, one should have all this information in one area of the autopsy report rather than scattering it among the External Examination and the description of the...

Armor Piercing Handgun Ammunition KTW and Its Legacy

In the 1960s, KTW ammunition, a form of armor-piercing handgun ammunition intended for police use, was introduced. It was subsequently banned in some localities because of its potential to perforate bullet-proof vests worn by police. The cartridge was loaded with a light-green Teflon-coated tungsten alloy or steel bullet with a copper half jacket on its base. This jacket, rather than the bullet proper, is gripped by the lands and grooves. Thus, rifling marks will be present only on this jacket...

Bullet Dissecting Microscope

Bevelling Wound Skull

Figure 4.38 a Bullet perforating bone b entrance in bone c exit in bone. difference in appearance of entrance and exit wounds is best seen in the flat bone of skull. As the bullet enters, it creates a round to oval sharp-edged hole in the outer table of the skull, with a large, bevelled-out hole on the inner table. When the bullet exits the cranial cavity, the inner table is the entrance surface and the outer table the exit surface. Chips of bone can flake off the edge of an entrance hole. This...

Class and Individual Characteristics of Bullets

When a bullet is fired down a rifled barrel, the rifling imparts a number of markings to the bullet that are called class characteristics. These markings may indicate the make and model of the gun from which the bullet has been fired. They result from the specifications of the rifling, as laid down by the individual manufacturer. These characteristics are 2. Diameter of lands and grooves In addition to these class characteristics, imperfections on the surfaces of the lands and grooves score the...

Plastic Training Ammunition

56mm Plastic Blank

A number of European countries manufacture military blanks and training ammunition whose cartridge cases and bullets are made of plastic. The blanks can be identified easily by the breaking points or serrated lines on the nose of the cartridge Figure 10.18 . These blanks are typically color-coded as to caliber. In plastic training ammunition, the plastic bullet is integral with the plastic case Figure 10.19 . On firing, the plastic bullet breaks free of the case. The rifle projectiles have a...

Sabot Ammunition

Sabot ammunition was introduced during World War II in an armor-piercing anti-tank role and is still used for this purpose. This ammunition consisted of a dense core of tungsten carbide covered with a steel sheath and a bore-and-sleeve assembly the sabot . The sabot converts the core of the projectile Figure 10.7 9-mm cast bullet showing circular mark on base resulting from sprue. to the same diameter as the gun barrel. The sabot is discarded as the projectile leaves the bore of the weapon. The...

Wounds from Buckshot

Gunshot Wound Chest

The appearance of a wound resulting from buckshot depends principally on the range between the victim and the muzzle of the weapon. A contact wound will consist of a circular wound of entrance whose diameter is approximately the same as that of the bore of the shotgun. The edges of the wound will be seared and abraded. The wound of entrance often is surrounded by a wide zone of raw, abraded skin caused by flaring out of the skin around the muzzle at the time of discharge when the gas produced...

General References

Cartridges of the World, 8th Edition. Northfield, IL Digest Books Inc., 1996. Hogg, I. V. and Weeks, J. Pistols of the World. San Rafael, CA Presidio Press, 1978. Gun Digest. annual Northfield, IL DBI Books, Inc. Jones A. Editor Speer Reloading Rifle amp Pistol Manual, Lewiston, ID, 1994. Sellier K. G. and Kneubuehl B. P. Wound Ballistics and the Scientific Background. Elsevier, The Netherlands, 1994. Small Arms Ammunition, TM 9-1305-200, Department of Army Technical Manual, June...

Bang Sticks

A Bang Stick is a device used by skin divers and fisherman to kill sharks, large fish, or alligators. It is also called a fish popper, shark stick or power head. A Bang Stick consists of a metal cylinder or barrel that contains a cartridge chamber. The front end of the cylinder is open to allow exit of the bullet. The other end is closed by a screw-on, cap-like breech through which a firing pin can project. The pin is ordinarily held out of the breech by a spring. A metal shaft, at least 26...

Overview Of Gunshotwounds

Penetrating gunshot wounds to the head and lack of immediate incapacitation. I. Wound ballistics and mechanisms of incapacitation. Int. J. Legal Med. 1995 108 53-61. 2. Karger, B. Penetrating gunshot wounds to the head and lack of immediate incapacitation. II. Review of case reports. Int. J. Legal Med. 1995 108 117-126. 3. Collins, K. A. and Lantz, P. A. Interpretation of fatal, multiple, and existing gunshot wounds by trauma specialists. J. Forensic Sci. 139 1 94-99. January...

Rubber and Plastic Bullets

Gauge Tear Gas Round

Rubber and plastic missiles have been used extensively by both British and Israeli authorities in riot control. They are intended to incapacitate by inflicting painful and superficial injuries without killing or serious injury. They are supposed to be fired at ranges no less than 30 to 70 meters, depending on the missile, with fire directed at the lower extremities. Figure 10.20 12-gauge flechette round. Figure 10.20 12-gauge flechette round. Rubber bullets, introduced by the British in...

Short Long and Long Rifle Cartridges

Remington Headstamp Identification

The .22 Short, Long, and Long Rifle cartridges can be fired in both handguns and rifles. The term Long Rifle as it is applied to the most powerful of these three cartridges does not indicate that the cartridge is intended exclusively for rifles. Rifles and handguns chambered for the .22 Long Rifle cartridge will fire the Short and Long cartridges as well. In the case of semi-automatic weapons, however, the weak recoil generated by the Short and Long cartridges is generally insufficient to work...

Wound Ballistics of the Shotgun

At close range, the shotgun is the most formidable and destructive of all small arms. For birdshot and buckshot loads, the severity and lethality of a shotgun wound depends on the number of pellets that enter the body, the organs struck by the pellets and the amount of tissue destruction. Like handgun bullets, the extent of tissue destruction from each individual pellet is limited to that tissue they physically shred. Temporary cavities play no significant role in injury. This is, of course,...