From the January 2010 Idaho Observer:

The Peril of Gun Shot Residue

When a gun is fired, the firing pin presses against the back-most part of the bullet causing the primer to ignite. The primer ignition in turn causes the gunpowder to ignite which then propels the bullet forward and out of the weapon. During ignition a chemical reaction occurs and three elements fuse together: lead, barium, and antimony. A single particle of these three elements join together to form what has been termed Gun≠-Shot Residue, more properly called PGSR or Primer Gun-Shot Residue.

GSR particles cannot be seen with the human eye; GSR is in the form of a fine powder that floats through the air and will land on anything it comes in contact with. GSR has no inherent stickiness and is therefore easily transferred from one surface to another. If a police station has an indoor firing range the entire building may be polluted by enormous amounts of GSR. This pollution has even been attributed to health problems. Foraker v. Chaffinch, 501 F3d, 231 (3rd Circuit 2001).

If someone with no GSR on them is frisked by an officer who has GSR on his hands or jacket the GSR may transfer to the person being searched. If the person is handcuffed and placed in the back of a police car, GSR-tainted handcuffs or a tainted patrol car could transfer GSR to the personís clothing or hands. Additionally, if anyone enters a police station and is questioned, that person runs the risk of becoming tainted by transferred GSR. If the clean person becomes tainted through GSR transference and the police conduct a hand swab test for presence of gunpowder, that person could test positive when no gun has been fired or handled. Additionally, if the police suspect the person and seize items of his or her clothing that clothing could also test positive for presence of GSR, especially when the person was transported to the police station in a patrol car and was frisked by police and handcuffed with police equipment.

Maintenance professionals, car mechanics and others who work with adhesives, solvents, cleaning agents and brake linings have also been known to fall prey to false positive GSR test results. The chemicals within these materials may contain substances which are easily confused with a positive GSR result.

The Daubert test which speaks on the reliability of scientific evidence should have never been allowed to pass through the courts and convict innocent people. Daubert v. Merill Dow Pharmaceuticals, 113 S.ct. 1286 (1983).

As of March 2006, the Department of Justice no longer tests for, nor uses, GSR evidence as it is not reliable. Owens v. Runnels, 2006 WL3227755. Why does the government still test for GSR, and why is this unreliable evidence allowed to aid a government theory leading to a conviction?

For more information on how Gun-Shot Residue has been used to falsely convict an innocent man, and to learn more about my case, please visit:

Eric Babos Toledo, Ohio

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