The Ol’ Gun was Recently Fired “Test”…Not!
I’m sure you’re all familiar with this scene. The detective finds a gun in the suspect’s house, or car, or wherever and after glancing at it or possibly sniffing it they proclaim “Ah ha! This gun was recently fired”. I’m not sure how this idea ever took hold but it has become so prevalent that a lot of authors and readers might actually believe it. Now, it would be awesome if we could actually determine such a thing but, alas, we can’t. Nor can we tell if a gun was “recently” cleaned. It sure does make for a memorable statement though.
We can tell if a gun has been cleaned since last being fired. We can determine that a gun is clean and that it may have excessive gun oil or something like that but we can’t quantify the duration of that condition. Now this could be informative if police stop a guy in the vicinity of a shooting and he’s carrying a gun. If the gun is “clean” they might eliminate him as the shooter. However, this would assume that he didn’t use another (second) firearm or that he didn’t use something like a Boresnake to quickly wipe the barrel.
Most firearms examiners will run a new cleaning patch down the barrel before test firing the weapon. This maycapture things like unburned gunpowder (useful in comparing to GSR or fired cartridges found at the crime scene), blood spatter, or other trace evidence which may help link that gun to the crime. But CSIs or detectives can not tell that a gun was recently fired (or not fired) simply by looking at it.
Posted on July 20, 2011, in General, The Crime Scene and tagged crime, Crime Scene, csi, detective, fiction, forensic photography, forensics, GSR, gun, gunshot residue, thriller. Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.