Weapons, especially those which propel something forward for the purpose of hitting a target, have always been a source of awe for mankind. The natural sense of curiosity in human nature gradually paved the way to the emergence of ‘Ballistics’ as a field of study.
Ballistics refers to the study that deals with the projectile motion in flight, especially in the case of bullets. Ballistics can be defined legally, as a field of study that deals with flight, behaviour as well as characteristics of any projectile and also evaluates firearm functioning, the process of firing, the flight process as well as the effects that the projectile has on the target.
Application of Ballistics for aiding law and legal agencies so as to maintain law and order in our society is referred to as FORENSIC BALLISTICS. It basically aims at identifying the offender and linking him/her to the scene of crime as well as a weapon of offence. To achieve this purpose forensic ballistic expert performs the following tasks:-
- Collection of all the physical evidence at the crime scene such as fired cartridges, wads, bullets or shots, firearm, clothes of the deceased and accused etc.
- Analysing the physical evidence collected.
- Studying in details the different types of marks found on the projectile as well as the cartridge case.
- Analysing and evaluating the projectile wounds (living target), impact of projectile (inanimate objects) and fate of the projectile after hitting the target.
The identification of the weapon of offence and linking it to the scene of crime as well as the offender/suspect is the primary aim of a forensic ballistic expert and this is carried out by ascertaining various aspects which are as follows:-
- Nature of Crime (homicide, suicide, assault etc.)
- Number of rounds fired from a single firearm and the total number of shooters.
- Range from which firing took place.
- Crime Scene Reconstruction
- Distance between victim and offender
- Identification of weapon of offence (aided by analysis of projectile injuries)
BRIEF HISTORY OF FORENSIC BALLISTICS
|1493-1508||Rifling came into existence||Emperor Maxmilian|
|1835||Bullet at crime scene identified by comparison with mould used to make it||Henry Goddard|
|1860||Wads found in the victim’s wound made of the same newspaper found at the suspect’s house||Regina v/s Richardson case|
|1902||Standardization of Rifling||Oliver Wendell Holmes|
|1912||Circumference of test fired bullets and that of those found at the crime scene were compared with the aid of photography||Prof. Balthazar|
|1925||Bureau Forensic Ballistic found|
Comparison Microscope developed
|Waite, Goddard, Gravelle, FischerP.O. Gravelle under Goddard’s guidanceFischer|
DIVISIONS OF FORENSIC BALLISTICS
Forensic Ballistics is studied under 3 broad headings
- Internal Ballistics
- External Ballistics
- Terminal/Wound Ballistics
Internal Ballistics studies the motion of projectile inside the barrel of the firearm i.e the flight of the projectile from the moment the firing pin strikes the percussion cap to the moment just before the projectile leaves the muzzle of the firearm barrel. It deals with the factors that affect motion of projectile when it travels inside the firearm, such as the primer and propellant composition, their quantity, rifling,, internal barrel diameter, choke etc.
External Ballistics deals with the study of flight of the projectile in the sir i.e. from the moment the projectile just leaves the barrel till the moment just before it hits the target. Factors like rifling, air pressure, resistance, gravity, friction, angle of fire, distance of the target etc. play a key role in studying the flight as well as efficiency of any projectile.
Terminal Ballistics deals with the study of the impact of the projectile on the target which it hits and the subsequent path the projectile traverses inside the target. Factors like elasticity, friction, resistance etc. of the target, play a very important role in ascertaining the projectile path/motion after hitting the target.