Volume 24, Issue 2 (April 1979)
Particle Analysis for the Detection of Gunshot Residue. I: Scanning Electron Microscopy/Energy Dispersive X-Ray Characterization of Hand Deposits from Firing
Several methods of bulk elemental analysis, such as fiameless atomic absorption, flame emission spectroscopy, neutron activation analysis, and photoluminescence spectroscopy, can reliably and quantitatively determine the amounts of antimony and barium (antimony and lead in the case of photoluminescence) removed from the hand. The information thus furnished, however, in most cases is not sufficient to constitute presumptive evidence of the presence of gunshot residue. Many analyses are inconclusive because the amounts of antimony and barium (lead) are less than certain “thresholds” considered necessary because these elements are not unique to gunshot residue. Firings from .22 caliber weapons, unless the cartridge is known to be a Federal brand, are not usually analyzed because domestic rimfire primers, except Federal, do not contain antimony. Understandably, there has been great interest in alternative analysis methods capable of furnishing additional information of potentially higher specificity for gunshot residue.