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Factors Affecting the Recovery of Latent Prints on Firearms

NCJ Number
Prosecutor Volume: 32 Issue: 1 Dated: January/February 1998 Pages: 32-34-38
C A Barnum; D R Klasey
Date Published
4 pages
This article provides both technical and nontechnical information on recovering latent fingerprints from firearms.
Fingerprint specialists have had some success in recovering latent prints from firearms, but it is a difficult process and very few latent prints are developed from firearms. Even when prints are developed, the time of deposition can seldom be determined. It is difficult to develop latent fingerprints from firearms for a number of reasons: (1) life of latent prints (could have been deposited days, months or years before the testing); (2) atmospheric conditions (air, temperature, humidity all affect print survivability and development); (3) environmental factors (what happened between the time a print was deposited and the time the weapon was recovered); (4) damage of friction ridge skin on the donor; (5) perspiration (amount transferred along with the print affects identifiability); (6) processing and handling problems; (7) firearm finishes; and (8) packaging. Notes