The Organization of Scientific Area Committees (OSAC) for Forensic Science has placed two new standards covering firearm and toolmark analysis, the forensic discipline used in the investigation of gun crimes, on its Registry of Approved Standards. This stamp of approval from OSAC, which is administered by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), indicates that these standards are technically sound and will help forensic laboratories improve their processes and methods.
These are the 100th and 101st standards to be placed on the registry by OSAC, which works to strengthen forensic science in the U.S. by facilitating the development and adoption of high-quality standards. When the organization launched in 2014, there was a patchwork of standards but no coordinated effort to develop and improve standards across multiple forensic science disciplines.
Forensic experts can often link a bullet or cartridge case to the gun that fired it based on microscopic marks left on the bullet as it exits the barrel, or on the cartridge case as it is ejected from the firearm. For instance, to test whether a bullet found at a crime scene was fired from a specific gun, experts test-fire that gun to produce a second bullet. They then compare the microscopic marks on the pair of bullets to see how similar they are.