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Assessing the Feasibility, Accuracy, and Technical Capabilities of a National Ballistics Database

Award Information

Award #
Funding Category
Funding First Awarded
Total funding (to date)

Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2003, $1,347,347)

Project Summary for 2003-IJ-CX-1013

The National Research Council proposes to draw upon expertise from relevant disciplines in the scientific and practitioner communities to provide assistance to the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) in assessing the technical feasibility, accuracy, and effectiveness of a national ballistics database for use as an aid to crime investigations. The project will support the activities of a new committee on ballistics assessment under the aigis of the Division on the Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education and the Division of Engineering and Physical Sciences. The study will focus on fundamental issues concerning the uniqueness of ballistic images; the ability of imaging systems to capture unique characteristics and to extract reproducible information from ballistic impressions; the probability that ballistics evidence presented would lead to a match with an image captured in a database; the development of base rates for crimes that produce ballistic evidence, the probabilities and consequences of false positives and negatives, and the operational effectiveness and utility of such a database in solving crimes.

The project is expected to inform federal policy on three separate options for creating a ballistics database: a) maintain the National Integrated Ballistics Information Network (NIBIN) on ballistics recovered from crime scenes; b) enhance the NIBIN system, for example to improve its ability to match crime scene evidence with the gun used; c) establish a national ballistics database of images from bullets fired from all, or nearly all, newly manufactured or imported guns for the purpose of matching ballistics evidence from a crime scene to a gun and, through information on its points of manufacture and sale, tracing the gun to its original owner.


Date Created: June 18, 2003