Firearms discharge residues

Wallace, James Smyth (1997). Firearms discharge residues. PhD thesis The Open University.



The three introductory chapters are intended to summarise the available knowledge prior to the experimental work and to provide useful background information for chemists, with little or no understanding of firearms, who are required to undertake the chemical aspects of firearms casework examination.

Chapter 1 provides a much condensed outline of the historical development of firearms and ammunition, with emphasis on ignition systems up to the development of the percussion primer and self contained ammunition. The second chapter presents a comprehensive literature search on the chemical nature of modem ammunition and firearms, with particular attention to priming compositions and projectiles. The final introductory chapter deals with the nature and properties of firearms discharge residues and outlines the most important developments in the search for a satisfactory detection and identification method.

The objective of the experimental work is to record experience gained from the 26 year terrorist campaign in Northern Ireland and to use such experience, coupled with further research and development, to substantially improve existing procedures for firearms and explosives residue detection.

The experimental work conducted is detailed in Chapter 4. Chapter 5 deals primarily with the Particle Analysis method for the detection and identification of firearms discharge residue, particular attention being directed towards the particle classification system and discharge residue from mercury fulminate and Sintox primed ammunition. Chapter 6 covers suspect handling procedures and contamination avoidance and makes recommendations for permanent improvements in and regular monitoring of the environment in which suspects are sampled. Chapter 7 outlines the development of a method for the detection of the organic constituents of firearms discharge residues, which is compatible with existing inorganic firearms discharge residue and organic explosive residue detection techniques and which enables all suspects to be routinely screened for inorganic and organic firearms discharge residue and organic explosives residue. The final chapter summanses the conclusions, recommendations and comments arising from the work. .

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