Defending the scientific foundations of the firearms and tool mark identification discipline: responding to recent challenges

Journal of Forensic Sciences
Ronald G Nichols


Recent challenges have brought the discipline of firearms and tool mark identification to the forefront in recent court cases. This article reviews those challenges and offers substantial support for the scientific foundations of the firearms and tool mark identification discipline. A careful review of the available literature has revealed that firearms and tool mark identification is rooted in firm scientific foundations, critically studied according to the precepts of the scientific method culminating in the Association of Firearms and Toolmark Examiners' Theory of Identification. Firearms and tool mark identification has been validated in a manner appropriate for evidence of the kind to be expected in firearms and tool mark examinations. Proficiency tests and error rates have been studied and can provide consumers of the disciple with a useful guide as to the frequency with which misidentifications are reported in the community using appropriate methodologies and controls. As a result, the primary issues in recent challenges do not invalidate the firearms and tool mark discipline as a science nor should it detract it from its admissibility in a court of law.


Jul 16, 2013·Forensic Science International : Synergy·Paul T Jayaprakash
Sep 14, 2010·Forensic Science International : Synergy·Mark PageMatt Blenkin
Jan 12, 2008·Forensic Science International : Synergy·A BiedermannF Taroni
Aug 8, 2013·Journal of Forensic Sciences·Darrell Stein, Jorn Chi Chung Yu
Feb 8, 2014·Journal of Forensic Sciences·Fabiano Riva, Christophe Champod
Mar 16, 2016·Science & Justice : Journal of the Forensic Science Society·Rachel S Bolton-King
Jan 3, 2015·Forensic Science International : Synergy·Laura CominatoMarcello D'Elia
May 2, 2015·Journal of Forensic Sciences·Ryan SpottsJames Kreiser
Jun 29, 2011·Scanning·Carol GambinoNicholas D K Petraco
Nov 22, 2018·Journal of Forensic Sciences·Saeed Bigdeli, Mohsen Ebrahimi Moghaddam
Mar 24, 2020·Journal of Forensic Sciences·Zhen WangHao Zhou
Nov 23, 2021·Journal of Forensic Sciences·Laura KnowlesJohn Marshall

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