100 word response 1 reference/intext citation due 2/7/2024
1. Should every weapon be test-fired at the factory and entered into a database (NIBIN) with its serial number to be linked to the owner who purchased it? What would be the pros and cons of this?
I think that test-firing every weapon at the factory and entering it and its serial number into NIBIN would be an additional step closer to solving gun-related criminal cases. The role of NIBIN is to provide criminal investigations with leads in gun-related crimes. The database contains digital images of cartridge cases that local, state, and federal agencies submit. Test-firing is presently not done on all weapons, and when it is done, it is usually done to test for functionality to ensure that it is in perfect state as it leaves the factory. As it is, NIBIN provides unconfirmed potential leads of the association of a particular firearm with the crime through a comparison with the digital images on the database. However, if cartridge information of every weapon is entered into the NIBIN database at the test-fire point, the leads provided would be confirmed. One of the partnership points between law enforcement and NIBIN is when partner agencies provide evidence from crime scenes, including cartridge cases and test fires from crime guns (ATF, 2023). In instances where test fires were conducted at the factory and entered into the database, it would be easier and faster to match them with those collected at the crime scene and link the weapon with the owner who bought it.
The pros for test-firing every weapon at the factory would be easier matching of crime guns with their owners and solving cases faster and more effectively. Usually, NIBIN matches cartridge cases provided as evidence with digital images submitted by government agencies. However, if actual cartridges collected at the factory during a test fire are fed into the database, it would be easier to match them with any provided from a crime scene. Moreover, the leads provided by NIBIN have to be confirmed to be hits through a microscopic examination of the actual physical evidence. This lengthy process could be avoided because the physical evidence provided (cartridges) would be matched with real images taken during test-firing. The process then becomes faster.
Cons of test-firing every weapon include time consumption, and the expectations for crime investigation may be challenging to meet. The number of firearms manufactured is enormous. Requiring each test-fired and information fed in a database would consume much time. Further, during firing, the imprints left on primers by the firing pins are not unique but change over time. If the primers are different, the imprints will also look different from one shot to another. These inconsistencies may present challenges in a crime investigation.
2. Should detectives and others besides the judge and jury be allowed to question an examiner’s results and expertise?
Both the prosecution and defence attorneys should be allowed to question the examiner’s results and expertise if they deem it necessary to build their case. There is also the possibility that the judge and jury may not grasp every detail by the expert, which other parties could capture. For example, the primacy rule in cross-examination states that “the jury will be most attentive in the first few minutes of cross-examination” (Perdue 3). This means that they may miss some information, which could be instrumental in the case of the presentation of the examiner’s results being long. To seal any loophole, more people should be allowed to question the results and expertise of the examiner.