EFFECTIVENESS OF FIREARMS IDENTIFICATION IN SOLVING CRIMINAL CASES AS PERCEIVED BY POLICE INVESTIGATORS
BY: PHILIP B. MAGTAAN
Master of Science in Criminology
In our country today, there are so many violent crimes involving the use of firearm. However, with the declaration of in September 1947, there was a mark decline in violent crimes. The first year of military rule revealed that crimes involving firearms could be relatively deterred. A great number of unlicensed and unregistered firearms owned by so many irresponsible individuals were surrendered.
On the other hand, of late, in the rural as well as in the urban areas, there has been a resurgence of numerous crimes involving firearms and such incidences have been recorded and publicized in different kinds of media. Over the years it has become increasingly evident that the crime problem is exceeding the capabilities of the criminal justice system to control or even contain such. Crimes of robbery, assault, murder, homicide, rape or any other violent crimes which involves the use of firearm appear on headlines in most of the news in the television, radio and leading newspapers. The rise of crime rates has prompted a public awareness of the seriousness of the problem. Law enforcement agencies, especially the Philippine National Police (PNP) and National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) are the one responsible in the investigation of these crimes. In their drive against those crimes, they are guided by “Forensic Ballistics” – it is the science of firearms investigation and identification. Scientific examination of physical evidence recovered during the investigation of criminal offenses plays an important role in the war against crimes. Crimes involving the use of firearms represent a significant area of investigation. Evidences were present in all crimes, and need to interpret and process to determine what really transpired in the crime. The findings must corroborate with the statements of witnesses, victims and suspects to obtain conviction of the suspect and administer justice to the offended party. (Dalilis, 2003) The history of how the science of firearm and toolmark identification has evolved over the past 165 years is extremely interesting to many forensic scientists performing duties as firearm and toolmark examiners. Prior to 1900, events occurred that would ultimately be associated with firearm and toolmark identification. Many of these events involved the simple observation, physical matching, caliber determination from an examination of the shape and size of a projectile, and experiments. In the early part of the last century (1900 — 1930), the science of firearm and toolmark identification was recognized by numerous judicial systems in several countries around the world. Legal recognition was due, in part, to the efforts of several individuals from various countries around the world that had conducted research and experiments into the identification of fired projectiles and cartridges cases to the specific firearms. In researching the exploits of many of these pioneer examiners, one is extremely thankful for their scientific curiosity as well as their contributions to our field of science. In most advance countries today, forensic ballistics plays an important role in the administration of justice. This science has an advantage over extracted confession, direct witness and other circumstantial evidences. It is regarded as the highest form of uncontestable and conclusive piece of evidence with the utmost legal significance. The identification of firearms is based on the fact that it is never possible to make two things exactly alike. It is therefore similar to the comparison of toolmarks.
The researcher employed the Descriptive Method, which Padua (2001) define as “collection of data in order to determine answers to questions concerning current status of the subject under study”. It is a process of...