How do police officers track bullets?

When the authorities are trying to solve a crime involving a firearm, they can sometimes trace a bullet that was fired back to a specific gun. They can determine that that was the exact gun used in the event. This can often help them connect the gun to subsequent events, such as determining that the same person was involved in numerous shootings or other criminal activities.

But you know that it’s possible to go to the store and buy a box of bullets, all of which look very generic and identical. How do the police know that they were fired through a specific gun? There are thousands upon thousands of firearms that may be chambered in the exact same caliber and that would easily fire the exact same bullets. So how do they link the bullets and the gun?

Think of it like fingerprinting

The police often compare this to fingerprinting. In every case so far, fingerprints have been unique to the people who created them. A full print allows the police to connect a person to an event.

In the same way, a gun imprints the bullet that is being fired. These imprints may be microscopic, and they are almost always impossible to identify for someone without the proper training. After all, the bullet might have mushroomed or fragmented on impact. It could be stuck in a material, like the plaster in a wall. But forensic scientists – not police officers – are still able to examine these bullets and then match them to the grooves, markings and imperfections left by a suspected firearm.

This is a highly technical process, and you may have a lot of questions about the validity of the results. If you’re facing charges, make sure that you know exactly what legal defense options you have.

RSS Feed

FindLaw Network