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Just Science: 2019 NIJ R&D: Just Detecting Gunshot Residue

NCJ Number
Date Published
June 2019
2 pages

This fourth episode in the 2010 R&D season of the National Institute of Justice's (NIJ's) Just Science podcast series is an interview with Dr. Suzanne Bell, Professor and Chair of the Department of Forensic and Investigative Science at West Virginia University, who discusses a method for consistent single-shot detection of organic and inorganic gunshot residue.


Dr. Bell's team identified the composition of organic and inorganic material that reliably composes GSR left on the gun hand by a single shot from various guns with various types of bullets. This was done to determine the uniformity or variability of materials deposited on the hand by a gunshot. After identifying the reliably distinctive materials in GSR,. the team determined which specific organic and inorganic materials that distinctively and reliably compose GSR can be identified with LC/MS. She identifies the materials in GSR that the team has already identified with LC/MS, as well as the challenges that remain in identifying some GSR material, notably antimony. Population studies also remain to be conducted by the team, along with the development of a database, so as to ensure GSR testing reliability with LC/MS across a variety of conditions.

Date Published: June 1, 2019