The Weekly Reload Podcast

Author Radley Balko Explains Why Courts Are Starting to Reject Firearms Ballistic Analysis

June 5th, 2023

On this week's episode, The Watch's Radley Balko details the landmark decision of a Chicago judge not to allow firearm forensic experts to testify in a criminal case.

Balko said the court's decision comes after years of criticism aimed at the field of forensic pattern matching. He argues many of the techniques made famous on shows like CSI have little scientific basis. Many, he said, are based on little more than the best guesses of examiners who are mainly just eyeballing evidence.

He explained the idea that matching a mass-produced bullet to the mass-produced gun it was fired from, to the exclusion of all other guns, may well be impossible. Or, at the very least, we don't have advanced enough techniques to pull it off with the level of certainty you'd want for evidence that could put somebody in jail for years or even decades. Indeed, Balko noted, most examiners cited as experts in court are unwilling to even submit to outside tests of their methods.

Plus, Contributing Writer Jake Fogleman and I talk about how far the injunctions against President Biden's pistol-brace ban extend. Jake also tells us about his latest rifle purchase, which is a bit of a throwback. And I give an update on how I'm liking the Phlster Enigma and appendix carry.