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Law Enforcement > Bureau of Criminal Investigation > Laboratory Division > Firearms and Toolmarks Unit

Firearms and Toolmarks Unit

The Firearms and Toolmarks Unit conducts ballistics and toolmark examinations that can tie a bullet or cartridge case to a specific gun or link a unique tool to a crime scene. BCI is part of the National Integrated Ballistics Information Network, a computer-assisted ballistics imaging system that stores and compares images of the unique marks made on fired cartridge cases.
What are the main job functions of a Firearms Examiner?
A Firearm Examiner’s primary duties include testing all types of firearms to determine if they function properly, and attempting to associate fired ammunition components (e.g., cartridge cases and bullets) to a particular firearm.
What is Forensic Firearm Identification?
The Forensic Firearm discipline has a primary concern to determine whether a bullet, cartridge case, or other ammunition component was fired by a particular firearm.
What is Forensic Toolmark Identification?
The Forensic Toolmark discipline has as its primary concern to determine whether a toolmark was produced by a particular tool.
How is fired ammunition linked to a specific firearm?
The Firearms Examiner utilizes a comparison microscope, an instrument allowing the examiner to view and compare two firearms evidence items, side-by-side and magnified, through one set of eye pieces.  The examiner, through their education, training and experience, analyzes the evidence and draws conclusions regarding whether the items are of a common origin.
Is it possible to match a bullet or cartridge case to a particular gun seeing that a gun manufacturer may produce thousands of identical firearms?
Yes. During the manufacturing process, unique characteristics are imparted onto a firearm. When a cartridge is fired these unique characteristics can then be transferred onto the fired cartridge case and fired bullet. Test fired cartridge cases and bullets can then be microscopically compared to the evidence in an effort to positively identify or eliminate them as having been fired from that specific firearm.
Can you determine when a firearm was last fired?
What kind of results can be expected from a firearms examination?
There are four possible conclusions that a Firearms Examiner can reach in his/her analysis: An identification, an elimination, an inconclusive result or a determination that one or more of the items is unsuitable for comparison.
What are the limitations of the analysis?
The biggest limitation a firearms analysis typically is the condition of the evidence.  If a piece of evidence is too badly damaged, then a comparison may not be possible.
What is NIBIN?
NIBIN is the National Integrated Ballistic Information Network, a computer-assisted ballistics imaging database used by Firearms Examiners to compare images of the unique markings registered on cartridge cases after being fired.  The primary goal of the program is to link cases that are unsolved or previously unassociated.
Firearms Section Submission Policies
In order to efficiently serve our customers, the laboratory has incorporated the submission policy for this section:

Firearms Submission Policy

Firearms Database Policy- click here

Firearms Section Laboratory Contacts:
London BCI Laboratory
Mark Losko
Laboratory Supervisor
Bowling Green BCI Laboratory
Cassandra Agosti
Laboratory Supervisor
Richfield BCI Laboratory
Laura Risdon
Laboratory Supervisor