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Insights: Surveying Practicing Firearms Examiners


Surveying Practicing Firearms Examiners


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.

Lead Researchers

Nicholas Scurich
Brandon L. Garrett
Robert M. Thompson


Forensic Science International: Synergy

Publication Date


Publication Number




Gain insights into the day-to-day casework and lab procedures of firearms examiners


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

The Study

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.