Forensic Ballistics | What is Forensic Ballistics | Classification and Applications

Blog post The term forensic ballistics refers to the branch of forensic science, which uses the scientific principles of ballistics, to applicate it in crime scene description.

FORENSIC BALLISTICS

Shubham Kumar

1/29/20246 min read

In the mysterious realm of forensic investigation, the application of forensic ballistics holds prominent grounds in putting ease in investigation. In almost all the violent crimes, the most common physical evidence an investigator gets is, firearms. Therefore, investigation of firearm is must to solve and uncover the telltale of crime.

In this article, we are going after the fascinating realm of forensic ballistics, moreover, understanding its definition, types and applications.

Definition of Forensic Ballistics

The term ballistics refers to the branch of applied physics which deals with the study of motion of projectile and conditions governing the motion. Moreover, ballistics encompasses the thorough understanding of the trajectory of the projectile, ranging from the point it unleashed till the point it hits the target.

The term forensic ballistics refers to the branch of forensic science, which uses the scientific principles of ballistics, to applicate it in crime scene investigation, in order to collect, analyze, examine, evaluate and individualize the firearm evidence present on the crime scene or related to crime scene, in order to seek justice in administration of court.

Forensic ballistics examines the firearms on the basis of their action, their type, their weight and the most important thing, whether it's working or not.

Forensic ballistics deals with the investigation of firearms, ammonization and parts of firearms involved in crime. The most prominent feature of forensic ballistics if to analyze the distinctive feature on the bullets to individualize them and relate them with particular firearm. Moreover, helps in crime scene reconstruction, linking suspects and providing expert testimony in legal procedures.

The development of scientific principles of forensic science is facilitate the examination of firearms, ammonization and propellants. In the term forensic ballistics, the ballistics is originated from the Greek word "ballein," meaning "to throw," and the Roman word "ballista," meaning "a machine to hurl a stone."

Classification in Forensic Ballistics

During an investigation, the ammo can be found in three palaces, one- when present in the firearm, second- when present in surroundings, and third- present inside an object. For all these three places, specific category of investigators are recruited, later forming into 3 major classifications.

  • Internal Ballistics: Investigates the behavior of projectile inside the firearm.

  • External Ballistics: Investigates the flight of projectile when its fired.

  • Terminal Ballistics: Investigates the behavior of projectile when its penetrated inside and object.

Internal Ballistics

Internal ballistics deals with the incidents which happens with the projectile within the firearm, specifically speaking, the barrel of the firearm. This sub-category of forensic ballistics studies the events happens in the barrel from the moment the firing pin hits the primer target in the breach of the barrel, to the time bullet exits the muzzle end of the barrel.

Furthermore, the science of internal ballistics, concentrates its focus towards examination of propellant pressure, acceleration of projectile, etc. Moreover, the characteristic of barrel is also one of it's special point of attraction.

External Ballistics

External ballistics deals with the incidents which happens with the projectile during its flight, specifically speaking, flight after being projected by barrel. This sub-category of forensic ballistics studies the flight of the projectile from the moment its leaves the muzzle end of the barrel, to the time hits the target.

The flight which a projectile takes to reach the target is called trajectory. External ballistics concentrates to investigate the trajectory only. Moreover, it involves the study of certain parameters like sectional density, atmospheric conditions, bullet shape, etc.

Terminal Ballistics

Terminal ballistics deals with the incidents which happens with the projectile when it enters into object, specifically speaking, events after hitting a target. This sub-category of forensic ballistics studies the behavior of projectile when it hits the target and penetrates inside the object. If the object is live (Humans and animals), then it is termed as wound ballistics.

Since, the penetration ability of each firearm is different. Moreover, the ability to pass though the body if object is limited to specific firearms like rifles. Therefore, terminal ballistics can sideline the unwanted suspected firearms by comparing their penetration ability with the length of penetration in object. Furthermore, it also signifies the type of wound that a firearm can cause to human body. Moreover, suggesting the rough figure about the distance required to cause reasonable amount of damage by a firearm.

For example, if an individual (A) fires on other individual (B), with revolver, he will suffer damage casing incised wounds. However, on investigation, it comes that individual (B) suffers less damage as compared to the penetration ability of revolver. Therefore, it will be concluded that the individual (A) fired at a distance greater than 800 feats. Since the effective range of revolver is 600 to 800 feats.

Application and Need of Forensic Ballistics

Forensic ballistics is one of the most amazing and fascinating branch of forensic science leading to which the major reconstruction occurs. Moreover, it encompasses all the various possibilities related to the use of firearms, making it most specific approach in concluding the investigation. Below, the applications and need of forensic science is listed:

Examination of Firearms: It involves the thorough examination of mechanism of firearm, subsequently, dealing with the individual character of firearms. This branch of science applicates on the individualization of prepollents and firearms. Moreover, sidelining the unwanted the firearm suspects.

Expert Testimony in Legal Procedures: The expert testimony of a forensic ballistics' expert is legal in court procedures. Furthermore, ensuring the justice in administration of court.

Evolution in Crime: Since time being in force, the nature of execution of crime is evolving at rapid phase. Moreover, most of the violent crimes involves the application of firearms. Therefore, to cope up with the evolving crimes, forensic ballistics is an important asset in ensuring justice.

Innocent should not be Punished: In India, civilians are allowed to have firearm, with license. Suppose, an individual has grappled in false acquisition for illegal use of firearm. In this scenario, forensic ballistics, can justify the innocence of that individual, by examining the last use of his firearm. Furthermore, analyzing the straited marks on the projectile fired.

To Counter improvised firearms: Improvised firearms are quite prevalent in these days, due to their low cost. However, they are unaware of their fatal repercussion. A division of forensic ballistics focusses on curbing down the exports of these improvised firearms (Katha).

FAQs

What is Forensic Ballistics?

The term forensic ballistics refers to the branch of forensic science, which uses the scientific principles of ballistics, to applicate it in crime scene investigation, in order to collect, analyze, examine, evaluate and individualize the firearm evidence present on the crime scene or related to crime scene, in order to seek justice in administration of court.

How is Ballistics material recovered from the crime scene?

In crime scene, ballistics materials are present in three regions. Present in the firearm, present in the surroundings of crime scene, and present inside an object. All these ballistics materials are collected by the application of internal ballistics, external ballistics and terminal ballistics, respectively. Ballistics materials like- ammo, firearms, missiles, prepollents, GSR, etc.

What is Ballistics Fingerprinting?

The ballistics fingerprinting refers to the examination of straited marks on the fired projectile, on order to individualize them. The fingerprints of firearm is determined by the presence of lands and grooves in their barrel. The lands and grooves are responsible for the formation of unique straited marks on the projectile when fired, which is used is used to related the fired projectile with firearm. The straited marks on projectile is unique just like fingerprints. Therefore, examination of straited marks on the fired projectile is called ballistics fingerprinting.

What is Forensic Firearm Investigation?

The forensic firearm investigation come under the application of internal ballistics, which encompasses the study of mechanism and action of firearm. This includes the examination of characteristics, nature, firing ability, penetration ability, recoil and important parts of firearms. Moreover, includes the examination of bullets, cartridges and propellants.

Reference

  • "Forensic DNA Typing" by John M. Butler

  • "The Forensic Casebook: The Science of Crime Scene Investigation" by Ngaire E. Genge

  • "Forensic Science: A Very Short Introduction" by Jim Fraser

  • "Practical Crime Scene Processing and Investigation" by Ross M. Gardner