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TERMINAL BALLISTICS: Wound Ballistic Simulation: Dissertation by Jorma Jussila (2005) 2021-05-15

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Wound Ballistic Simulation:
Dissertation by Jorma Jussila (2005)


Use of force to protect and defend a nation from external aggression, internal disorder and unlawful activity is considered necessary and morally acceptable. Even though ultimate, lethal force is sometimes unavoidable the force should always be in proportion with the prevailing threat. No more force should be used than is necessary to avert it and stop the aggression. The means of force allowed for a legitimate military or law enforcement organisation are by no means unlimited. International organisations have long attempted to define what can be considered acceptable technology and behaviour in a conflict. A firearm is a common means of force. Yet the available definitions of its acceptable effects and means to verify them have been somewhat lacking.

This dissertation looks into the International Law to find an interpretation of current weapons technology and a legal basis for verification of the injury potential of penetrating firearms projectiles. The result emphasizes the fact that all parties of a dangerous confrontation have the same right to be protected from superfluous and unwarranted injury - not only the offender, but also and primarily the non-involved bystander and the law enforcement official.

The literature is reviewed for wound ballistic research, proposals for injury scoring and wound ballistic simulation methods. Ballistic gelatine has long been used as soft tissue simulant to study the behaviour of a bullet and its injurious effects. The validation of gelatine has so far been somewhat dubious. Several different methods of preparing it have been published with very little information on how various preparation parameters affect the end result. Laboratory experiments conducted during this research correct some of these problems and establish a more solid basis for wound ballistic simulation by recommending the use of standard gelatine and validating it with the results obtained from published tests with anesthetized pigs and defining a function describing the relationship between dissipated kinetic energy and amount of devitalised tissue. Various methods of measuring the kinetic energy dissipated by the bullet into gelatine are compared and the method giving the highest correlation recommended.

Skin simulant is defined to complement the gelatine in studying the residual injury potential to bystanders induced by bullets that already penetrated the primary target or ricocheted from a hard surface.

Based on above, a method for verifying the injury potential of a bullet is proposed. This method will allow for a meaningful comparison of bullet effects to establish their suitability and acceptability for law enforcement use. Furthermore, it allows the results to be connected to the Red Cross Wound Classification. The research also shows that standardized injury and ballistic data should be collected and stored in a database. An outline of standard information is proposed. This would allow verification of experimental research, further refinement of wound ballistic simulation and follow-up control of the weapons already accepted for use.

Although there is no legal obligation for mandatory review for assessment of the injury potential of the firearms used by law enforcement in Finland, the fact that the society has authorized the use of force against its own members makes the moral obligation compelling.
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