In recent years, there has been much discussion and debate regarding firearm examiner testimony, but little is known empirically about the actual practices of firearm examiners in conducting casework. Researchers funded by CSAFE conducted a survey of practicing firearms examiners to better understand the conditions of their casework, as well as their views of the field and its relations with other parts of the justice system.
Brandon L. Garrett
Robert M. Thompson
Forensic Science International: Synergy
IN 127 IMPL
Find what examiners believe impacts the quality of their work
Learn the examiners’ opinions of statistical models, new technology, and misunderstandings from judges and jurors in regard to their profession
Scurich et al. posted a survey on the Association of Firearms and Toolmark Examiners (AFTE) member forum from July to November of 2020. Participation was voluntary, anonymous, and uncompensated. A total of 79 AFTE members provided usable responses.
The survey asked about several topics, including:
What percentage of your cases result in an identification conlusion?
What percentage of your cases result in an exclusion/elimination conlusion?
The percentage of identification results vs. elimination results
From the 79 responses, Scurich et al. learned the following:
Focus on the future
Further work should explore the impacts of lab policies and evidence submission practices on examiners.
New training and educational opportunities—for both firearm examiners and the consumers of firearm examiner testimony—could provide benefits and promote clearer understanding of the strengths and limitations of firearm examination.