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Gunshot Wounds: A Review of Firearm Type, Range, and Location as Pertaining to Manner of Death

Molina, D. Kimberley MD*; DiMaio, Vincent MD*; Cave, Rowena BSc(Hons)

The American Journal of Forensic Medicine and Pathology: December 2013 - Volume 34 - Issue 4 - p 366–371
doi: 10.1097/PAF.0000000000000065
Original Articles

Many studies have examined the characteristics of gunshot wounds by manner of death; however, no published study has directly compared these characteristics for the different types of firearms. This study was designed to address that deficiency. Existing data sets of nonaccidental deaths by handguns, shotguns, and rifles were reviewed. The victim data were analyzed by age and sex of the victims, wound location, range of fire, manner of death, and type of firearm. Handguns were the most common firearm used in both suicides and homicides, followed by rifles and then shotguns. For both homicides and suicides, there were significant differences between the firearm types for age of victims, range of fire, and wound locations. Possible reasons for those differences are discussed. It is concluded that information about the type of firearm is crucial to have when examining the nature of a firearm injury and determining the manner of death.

From the *Bexar County Medical Examiner’s Office, San Antonio, TX; and †Factuality Research and Analysis, New Zealand.

Manuscript received May 9, 2013; accepted June 12, 2013.

The authors report no conflicts of interest.

Reprints: D. Kimberley Molina, MD, Bexar County Medical Examiner’s Office, 7337 Louis Pasteur Dr, San Antonio, TX 78229. E-mail:

© 2013 by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.