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Surveying Practicing Firearm Examiners

Journal: Forensic Science International: Synergy
Published: 2022
Primary Author: Nicholas Scurich
Secondary Authors: Brandon Garrett, Robert. M. Thompson

A sample (n = 79) of practicing firearm and toolmark examiners was queried about casework as well as their views about the potential role that statistics might play in future firearm examinations and expert witness testimony. Principal findings include: The modal response for time spent conducting bullet examinations is 2–4 hours, and the modal response for cartridge casings is 1–2 hours. The average participant (median) makes an identification in 65% of casework, makes an elimination in 12% of casework, and reports that the examination was inconclusive in 20% of casework calls. The vast majority of examiners work at laboratories that permit eliminations when class characteristics agree. The reported industry-wide false positive error rate is 1%, though very few participants could name a study or give a citation for their reported estimate. Qualitative responses about the potential role of statistics were mixed.

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