Tackling the forensic unknowns of 3-D-printed firearms

phys.org | 1/7/2019 | Staff
rubydrummer (Posted by) Level 3
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In the summer of 2016, Transportation Security Administration screeners at Reno-Tahoe International Airport in Nevada confiscated an oddity: a 3-D-printed handgun in a man's carry-on baggage.

The plastic gun was inoperable but accompanied by five .22-caliber bullets. The passenger said he had forgotten about the gun and willingly left it at the airport and boarded his flight without being arrested.

TSA - Plastic - Gun - Kind - US

The TSA later said the plastic gun was believed to be the first of its kind seized at a U.S. airport.

Since the world's first functional 3-D-printed firearm was designed in 2013, such guns have increasingly been in the news. Proponents of the firearms – 3-D-printed with polymers from digital files – maintain that sharing blueprints and printing the guns are protected activities under the First and Second Amendments. Opponents argue the guns are concerning because they are undetectable and also untraceable since they have no serial numbers.

Unknowns - University - Mississippi - Chemistry - Professor

Tackling some of those forensic unknowns are a University of Mississippi chemistry professor and a graduate student. Their research is developing analytical methods to explore how the firearms might be traced using chemical fingerprints rather than relying on physical evidence, with the goal of offering tools for law enforcement to track the guns as they become more widespread.

"We can positively identify the type of polymer used in the construction of the gun from flecks or smears of plastic on bullets, cartridge cases and in gunshot residue collected on clothing," said James Cizdziel, an associate professor in the UM Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry.

Cizdziel - Ole - Miss - Faculty - Oscar

Cizdziel, who joined the Ole Miss faculty in 2008, and Oscar "Beau" Black, who recently earned his doctorate in chemistry, have spent two years researching 3-D-printed firearms through a grant from the National Institute of Justice, part of the U.S. Department of Justice.

The three-year, $150,000 grant, "Physical and Chemical Trace Evidence from 3-D-Printed Firearms,"...
(Excerpt) Read more at: phys.org
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