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Firearms Evidence

Home > Evidence Handling Procedures > The Crime Scene > Collection of Evidence > Firearms Evidence

The collection of firearms includes the firearm, ammunition, and associated materials, such as clothing with gunshot residue deposits.


Firearms should be unloaded and placed in a safe condition at the point of collection. If the collector is unsure of the proper procedure, assistance should be sought from a competent source such as a firearms instructor, departmental armorer, or an on-site firearm examiner.

The firearm should be identified at a minimum with the information required by the agency’s crime scene search protocols. If agency protocols mandate the direct marking of evidence, the firearm should be marked inconspicuously. One method is to inscribe the collector’s initials and other required information within the trigger guard of the firearm.  A diamond or tungsten-tipped machinist’s scribing tool is frequently used for this purpose. Laboratory protocols should be followed for firearms recovered from water since special handling may be required.

firearms strapped into cardboard boxes

Firearms packaging

image courtesy of Arrowhead Forensics

Collected firearms should be packaged according to laboratory or agency policy, for example by sealing in unused wrapping paper and placing in a cardboard box designed for either handguns or shoulder arms.  Unloaded ammunition may be packaged separately, marked, and identified as to the firearm from which it was removed.

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