The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives unveiled a state-of-the art mobile forensic lab this week designed to travel around the country to help law enforcement probe cases involving guns, reports the Washington Post. The new van is the first of its kind and will become part of the agency’s National Integrated Ballistic Information Network, which allows investigators to examine the markings left behind on casings expelled from fired guns and compare them to a database of other casings found at other crime scenes. The van will go to places where law enforcement might not have the resources to analyze ballistic evidence, said the ATF’s Jim Ferguson.
Like other facilities that analyze ballistic evidence, the van will allow technicians to capture digital images of the unique “fingerprint” that individual guns leave on spent bullets and cartridge cases and compare them to the network of “fingerprints” from other crime scenes. Ferguson said anywhere from 20,000 to 30,000 items are entered into the network’s database monthly from 172 sites and 3,500 agencies nationwide, a jump from the roughly 10,000 to 12,000 monthly submissions two years ago.