People suspected of using a firearm can no longer make excuses for the so-called gunshot residue if it has been found on their body or clothing. These remains, consisting of small metal particles released when firing a weapon, cannot come from anywhere else. This is evident from an international forensic investigation published last week, the Netherlands Forensic Institute (NFI) reports Monday.
It is likely that suspects of violent crimes are trying to come up with an excuse to explain the gunshot remains found. For example, they could state that they are working on cars and that metal particles found come from brake pads and airbags. However, the research shows that gunshot residues have a different composition and do not naturally occur in people’s living and working environment. “The excuse ‘I am a car mechanic’ is no longer valid,” said the NFI.
According to the NFI, suspects sometimes also state that the gunshot remains came from officers and that they ended up on them during the arrest. In the Netherlands, this excuse cannot easily apply, since the police here use ammunition to which a special marker has been added to distinguish their gunshot residue from those of other weapons. In some other countries this marker is not yet used. The researchers from the international working group in which the NFI participated emphasize that this would be a good idea.
Never before has such large-scale scientific research into gunshot residues taken place, according to the NFI. The institute argues that there was an international need to obtain more clarity about the remains, so that forensic reports can be substantiated better. The results would therefore be “important for the taking of evidence” in criminal cases. The study involved 32 forensic institutes from Europe, Singapore, Russia and the United States.
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