Graduation Year

2004

Document Type

Thesis

Degree

M.A.

Degree Granting Department

Criminology

Major Professor

Tom Mieczkowski

Keywords

manufacturing, matching, statistics, guns, bullets

Abstract

This thesis is an examination of a firearm identification system that creates a three-dimensional image of a bullet in order to record the depth and length of striations occurring along the bullet's surface. Ballistics evidence is an area of forensics in great need of further development. The advent of more sophisticated firearms such as semi-automatic and automatic weapons has increased the need for a matching system that connects bullets found at crime scenes with suspect guns. In the past, control bullets matching ones found at the crime scene have been test fired and then examined by a comparison microscope for similarities with the evidence bullet. The purpose of this thesis is to examine data collected by an emerging system that uses three-dimensional technology by way of a laser and convex mirrors to create a digitized representation of the lands and grooves of a bullet.

This representation is a measure of the depth of striations or markings created on the bullet's surface during the firing event. The objective of this thesis is to statistically examine the data collected by this system, which consists of bullets produced by eight different manufacturers. The data for this thesis comes from a pilot study conducted by the creators of a three-dimensional system called SCICLOPS. Variables examined include the maximum and minimum number of striations recorded, the relative position of the bullet (as determined by the six lands and grooves measured by the system), and the manufacturer type. It is hypothesized that there will be differences in the number of striations measured across manufacturer types. Results indicate that manufacturer type may play an important role in how bullets "take" striations or markings during the firing event. Implications for the SCICLOPS system and future research are discussed.

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