U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

Ballistic Fingerprints on File

NCJ Number
Date Published
January 2004
2 pages
This article describes a computer-based impact analysis model and accompanying handbook that can guide legislators and law enforcement officials in assessing the pros and cons of establishing and operating a Reference Ballistic Imaging Database (RBID), which would contain records of the test firings of all new guns sold in the State.
RBIDs, which currently exist only in New York State and Maryland, can supplement the national criminal ballistic imaging database maintained by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. A RBID may be able to match a spent shell casing found at a crime scene to the data from the test firing of a new gun recently sold in the State. Although the gun could have been stolen, lost, or resold since the initial purchase, it is the first step in identifying the person who used the gun at the crime scene. In order to facilitate a State's decision about whether to establish a RBID, the National Institute of Justice funded the development of a model for such decisionmaking. The model consists of four user input worksheets and two results worksheets. The worksheets can help States identify and understand relevant issues, determine program feasibility, ascertain the number of equipment units and floor space required, estimate needed personnel and associated costs, and develop plans and cost projections. The handbook provides an overview of ballistic imaging technology, a more detailed explanation of RBID operations in Maryland and New York, and a description of how the planning model works.

Date Published: January 1, 2004