Ottawa Citizen

WHY mobsters leave their guns behind after a hit

- BY MICHELLE TSAI

The final episode of the Sopranos airs tonight. There’s bound to be some gunplay. In two killings featured in last Sunday’s episode, mob hit men dropped their guns before leaving the crime scene. As Clemenza says in The Godfather, “Leave the gun, take the cannoli.” How come mafia hit men always drop the guns? They don’t want to be caught with the weapon while fleeing the scene. If they’ve taken precaution­s to keep the gun from being traced back to them, it won’t be much help to the police. In that case, it’s better to leave it for the cops.

The decision is a calculatio­n of probabilit­y rather than a question of style. Mobsters aren’t the only ones who prefer the cannoli to the Smith&Wesson; it’s a move that many profession­al killers employ when they can, along with ditching the gloves and shirt they wore (which may contain gunshot residue).

Only a criminal who is completely confident his gun can’t be traced would abandon the weapon. In this case, his chances of being connected with the weapon are so low that he’s more worried about running into law en- forcement during the getaway. (Why not toss the gun in the harbour, like they do on The Wire? It’s not foolproof disposal; divers can retrieve weapons.)

A killer who drops his gun better be sure it’s free of incriminat­ing clues like fingerprin­ts and DNA. As countless crime dramas have taught us, forensics experts can dust a weapon for prints and match them against those from a criminal database or a particular suspect. The police can also sometimes collect DNA from sweat or skin cells left on the gun.

The serial number poses another problem; it can trace the gun’s life story, from when and where it was manufactur­ed to who bought the weapon from which dealer. A killer might try to destroy the etched code by drilling or sanding it away. (In some cases, the police can recover the number by applying chemical reagents to the metal surface.) If the gun is stolen, the serial number could lead investigat­ors down the wrong path, but a discipline­d criminal would probably remove it just to be safe.

From Slate.com

 ?? LORIS SAVINO, REUTERS ?? If someone has taken the trouble to make sure a gun cannot be traced back to them before making a hit, it’s better to leave it for the cops than be caught fleeing the scene with it.
LORIS SAVINO, REUTERS If someone has taken the trouble to make sure a gun cannot be traced back to them before making a hit, it’s better to leave it for the cops than be caught fleeing the scene with it.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada