Wednesday, October 27, 2021
Tanyarara Mutsavi and Lirieka Meintjes-van der Walt (University of Fort Hare and University of Fort Hare) have posted Ensuring the Reliability of Fire-Arm Identification Evidence (PER / PELJ 2020(23)) on SSRN. Here is the abstract:
Notwithstanding the acceptance of firearm identification by courts, the scientific community has been reluctant to recognise firearm identification as a reliable method of conclusively establishing a connection between a particular bullet and a particular gun. The National Institute of Justice (NIJ) in the United States (US) has categorised firearm identification as a discipline under forensic science, and forensic science has been described as a "fractured and burdened discipline". In addition, in 2009 the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) concluded that forensic science is broken. With regard to firearm identification, the NAS Report emphasised the need for sufficient studies to be done because this report regarded this type of evidence as unreliable and lacking repeatability. The President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) Report, released in September 2016, came to a conclusion similar to that of the 2009 NAS Report with regard to forensic science evidence. With regard to firearm identification, the report asserted that firearm identification evidence still "falls short of the scientific criteria for foundational validity".