How Much Can a Gunshot Injury Say About the Gun Used?

Gunshot injuries can reveal a lot of information, but don't expect miracles. (Shutterstock photo)

Gunshot injuries can reveal a lot of information, but don’t expect miracles. (Shutterstock photo)

TLDR: It depends, but it’s probably not as much as you think.

Howdunit Forensics DP LyleFull disclosure: I’m not a forensic scientist. I can’t hold a candle to books like Dr. D.P. Lyle’s Howdunit Forensics (Writer’s Digest Books) unless I’m burning it as part of a book ban, and I gave those up years ago.

Regardless, I’ve served as a resource for journalists working on stories involving firearms and crime, including homicide. In one instance from last year, I provided commentary on autopsy reports from a notorious shootout in Texas about the firearms used. The experience highlighted how much and how little a gunshot injury can reveal about the firearm used. Continue reading

FACT or FICTION: Forensics and Crime Scene Investigation Portrayed in Entertainment

The CSI Effect

Skilled investigators work to unravel crime scenes, but it doesn’t always follow the process portrayed in pop culture. For example, in this photo, it’s clear that someone spilled white paint on himself/herself, then tripped while doing a Wile E. Coyote impression. ~Ben (Image by Nate Nolting via

If you’re not already reading crime writer/criminologist Jennifer Chase’s blog and Emily Stone series of novels, you’re missing out. In addition to those great reads, Chase cranks out posts on her website worthy of a college course in criminal justice. I’m privileged to host another fantastic post from her here. Enjoy!


Continue reading

Should Characters “Dig Out” Bullet Injuries?

A_bullet_in_the_base_of_a_brain,_viewed_through_x-ray._Photo_Wellcome_L0000624Photo via Wikimedia


Not having been shot by a gun (thankfully), I’m a little naive in the department of gunshot injuries. However, a Facebook conversation the other day brought up the topic of characters treating gunshot wounds. Books, movies and TV shows will often depict a character “digging out the bullet” before wrapping up the wound.

Continue reading

Should Characters Use Sugar to Heal Gun/Knife Wounds?

41tJMWlseMLTLDR: Using sugar is old school, but it can be effective for minor injuries. Modern characters would likely use a commercial coagulent and antibiotics.

A trick from back in the day involved packing a wound with sugar. Apparently, this came up in the movie Shooter, where an injured character dumped sugar into a wound. (I only have the gist of what happened, I haven’t actually seen Shooter.)

Continue reading