Section 44 of the Indian Penal Code denotes injury as, “Any harm caused to any person in body, mind, reputation, or property.”
Firearm injury is caused by using weapons like revolvers, pistols, rifles, shotguns, etc. The nature of firearm injuries caused by firearms depends on many factors, including the type of weapon, the velocity of the projectiles, firing range, among others.
The firearm injuries vary greatly. Ordinarily, they cause punctured wounds. But sometimes explosive, contusion and incised wound are also caused.
Classification of Firearm Injury
Firearm injuries are classified into Entry Wound and Exit Wound.
Entry Wound of Firearm Injury
Their inverted margins often recognize entry wounds. The inversion of the edges at the entrance wounds is caused by the projectile, drawing the skin inside. The majorly noticed wounds include:
- Temporary cavity– Cavity formed by the bullet as soon as it passes through the tissue.
- Permanent cavity– Cavity caused by the bullet due to the actual destruction of the tissues.
- Stellate tearing– It is observed as the deep cruciform tearing formed around the entry hole of the gunshot wounds.
- Tattooing– Unburnt particles adhere to the skin, and the mark left behind is called tattooing.
- Abrasion: It is the scrapping of the dermal layer of the skin.
- Scorching: The flame that comes out of the shotgun’s muzzle ends burns the target on the surface.
- Singing: when the flame comes In contact with the body hair, it is termed as Singeing.
The dirt collar and contusion ring are usually noticed on the entrance side of the wound. The dirt ring is formed by the deposition of graphite, grease, and dirt present on the bullet. The contusion ring is due to the impact of the projectile on the surface around the wound.
When the gun’s muzzle is held in contact with the skin, the surface may be torn or lacerated, and powder marks on the surface may be absent due to their having entered the wound. However, marks or imprints of wads may be found at the entry of the shotgun injury.
The diameter of the entrance wound is usually smaller than the diameter of the bullet. This is caused due to the elasticity of the skin. As a result, the shape of the entry wound may be round or oval.
Exit Wound of Firearm Injury
An exit wound is recognized by the absence of various marks found around the entrance wound, such as the presence of averted edges of the skin and the shape and size of the wound. The marks due to hot gases, smoke, powder residues, etc., will be absent.
The size of the exit wound is ordinarily larger than the entrance wound or even the size of the projectile. This is due to the deformation of the projectiles and the tissues it gathers around them.
There may be more than one exit hole for one entrance wound, especially when a bone has been struck, pieces of bone may be put into motion. The bleeding is much more marked at the wound of exit.
The entry and exit holes help determine the direction in which the projectile was fired.
Minimum velocity, called threshold velocity, required to penetrate the skin is about 40 to 50 meters per second. In contrast, for bone penetration, projectile velocity should be more than 60 meters per second in normal cases.
The fired bullets from handguns may form through and through wounds having an entrance wound, an exit wound, and a tunnel in between.