Ballistics deals with the study of motions of a projectile and the factors associated with it. Ballistics experts are the individuals who perform tests on guns, spent bullets, empty cartridge cases in criminal cases to prove guilt or innocence of a suspected offender.
The various ballistic evidence involves the firearm, bullet fragments, cartridge cases, cartridge clips, gun powder, different shot patterns, wads, etc., which are usually recovered from the crime scene.
This article in detail describes the education qualification required to become a ballistic expert, the duties and responsibilities of a forensic expert, career aspects as a ballistics expert, and the skills required for the same.
A Ballistics Expert
Forensic ballistics deals with examining evidence relating to firearms and ammunition that are recovered from the crime scene. They also include analysis of the effects and behaviour of projectiles and explosive devices. “A ballistics analyst or a ballistics expert is a forensic scientist who works for the criminal justice system on cases involving firearms and ammunition.”
They make a microscopic comparison between the flaws of the gun barrel and the bullets discovered from a crime scene. They also analyze bullet shots, angles, and examination of gun powder to determine the source.
Duties and Responsibilities of Ballistics Expert
The following are important responsibilities of a ballistics expert.
- Comparing and matching the marks present on the barrel’s rifling to the striations found on the bullets.
- Reconstructing the crime scene in order to determine how a weapon was used and when was it used.
- The responsibility of a ballistic expert also includes performing chemical tests to determine whether or not a gun was fired or if an individual has fired a gun recently.
- They also present the statistical data, graphs, and other related information to the judge when they testify in the court of law.
- They present information to the law enforcement agencies as it is unmasked.
- They help in determining a bullet’s trajectory and how the trajectory of the bullets is affected when they pass through particular objects.
- They collect the firearm and perform gunshot residue analysis.
- Photographs of the scene of crime.
- Ballistic expert test-fires the weapon allegedly used to facilitate microscopic comparison of bullets from test weapon with those recovered from the scene of the crime.
- Writing reports on the findings of the test-fire then comparing and testifying that in the court.
- They may also order and maintain departmental weapons-related equipment.
Requirements to Become Ballistic Expert
- To become a ballistic expert, one must have a bachelor’s degree in the field of forensic science or another in a related field such as biology or physics.
- One should have a firm knowledge of metallurgy and the materials from which guns and ammunition are made.
- One should have a master’s degree in forensic science or ballistics-related fields.
- To become a ballistic expert, one must have the knowledge and ability required to understand the markings left on the bullets due to the rifling present in the bullets.
- Good science and maths skills can help an individual understand statistics and analyze the evidence properly.
The various possible job titles in this career include ballistic expert, ballistic analyst, forensic ballistic expert, firearms examiner, forensic firearms analyst, firearm and tool mark examiner. Ballistics expert usually studies the dynamics of the projectiles or the internal actions of the various kinds of firearms.