Lead-free bullets could give criminals an advantage

Ammunition manufacturers are in the process of removing lead from their bullets–a new development that experts say could threaten law enforcement’s ability to arrest and convict criminals.

“This is a potential game changer,” predicts Michael Knox, a seasoned crime scene investigator. Knox said he believes the absence of “lead” from bullets and “lead residue” from crime scenes will threaten public safety.

“If we can’t prove a case, it’s very possible that a suspect will walk out the door and commit another crime,” he said.

Right now, investigators can reconstruct most gun crime scenes because they know how lead bullets perform in every conceivable situation. The science is foolproof and accepted in every court. Knox said investigators have no idea how lead-free bullets will react when fired. There is little acceptable science because lead free bullets are so new;  certainly nothing any court would rule admissible — yet.

That’s where UCF Chemistry Professor Dr. Michael Sigman from the National Center for Forensic Science comes in.

“One of the ways to identify the shooter and also get information about the bullet is to get residue from the powder,” says Sigman. Sigman and his team are analyzing the already known lead-free bullets available to determine what they’re made of. They have already made one vital discovery; Ammunition makers are not replacing lead with another universal material.

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