Potential Questions for a Firearms Expert Witness

Below are over 50 potential questions that may be asked of an expert witness on firearms at deposition.

  1. Who owned the firearm?
  2. Who was the shooter?
  3. Was the person trained in the use of that firearm?
  4. What is the age of the persons involved?
  5. Are any of them minors?
  6. Was anyone with a criminal record involved?
  7. Was any alcohol involved?
  8. Where did this take place?
  9. Was the discharge at a legal shooting site?
  10. What time of day did it occur?
  11. Were there visibility issues at this time or location?
  12. Was the firearm in a holster when it discharged, as evidenced by burn marks?
  13. Was a police report filed?
  14. What mistakes have been made on the police report?
  15. Were any scene photos taken?
  16. What do witnesses say?
  17. What credibility issues are present?
  18. At the time of the shooting, was anyone, such as a police officer, “in charge”?
  19. Is there any evidence of a deliberately self-inflicted wound?
  20. Do any powder burn marks on the body indicate the position of the firearm at the time of discharge?
  21. Was this a foreseeable accident?
  22. Does the owner’s manual address the situation encountered?
  23. Was any activity in contravention to the owner’s manual instructions?
  24. Were the NRA safety rules being followed?
  25. Were the NRA Safety Rules germane?
  26. Was the firearm pointed in a safe direction?
  27. Was the firearm most likely discharged by the possessor’s finger?
  28. Was the gun being stored unloaded until ready to use?
  29. How old is this firearm?
  30. What is the history of this particular firearm?
  31. How many rounds has this particular firearm discharged?
  32. Did the owner show requisite care by cleaning and oiling?
  33. Is the firearm corroded externally or internally?
  34. What is the history of this firearm’s design?
  35. Is this a well-validated design?
  36. Is this firearm known for this type of accident?
  37. Is this firearm “state of the art” in mechanical interlocks to prevent unintended discharge?
  38. Was the firearm a copy of a historic firearm?
  39. Do other historic firearm copies have internal safeties that could have prevented this incident?
  40. Does the firearm have a loaded chamber indicator?
  41. Was the firearm dropped?
  42. Are there any characteristic marks of impact on the hammer, heel or butt?
  43. Should this model have been stored with an unloaded chamber?
  44. What does a careful inspection of the internal parts show?
  45. What manufacturing processes (e.g., machining, casting, MIM) were used to create the small internal parts of this firearm?
  46. Are they sufficiently durable?
  47. Are the wear surfaces hardened?
  48. Could wear have contributed to this failure?
  49. What are the geometric specifications of this firearm?
  50. Were the mating components manufactured to spec?
  51. Can internal fouling or manufacturing debris disable portions of the fire control mechanism?
  52. Did the firearm company test fire the weapon before sale?
  53. Has this firearm been drop tested with a primed casing and the hammer cocked?
  54. Was this firearm assembled using components made in China or the third world?
  55. Have rounds of exemplar ammunition been retained?
  56. Have fragments of the expended round been recovered?
  57. Was factory, military surplus, or hand-loaded ammunition used?
  58. What are the technical specifications of the ammunition used?
  59. Is there any problem with the specific lot number of ammunition?
  60. Are the pressures developed by this ammunition appropriate for the subject weapon?
  61. Do the detonated primers of expended casings show signs of high pressure?
  62. In firing rounds from this manufacturing lot in a test firearm, are the casings difficult to extract, indicative of high pressure?
  63. Does a chronograph test of exemplar rounds show higher muzzle velocity than expected?

Stephen A. Batzer , PhD, PE is a mechanical engineer. He is both a professor and a consultant with a nation-wide practice. He is a licensed professional engineer in manufacturing engineering. He is a retired Lieutenant Colonel of Ordnance (munitions) and has substantial firearms expertise. He has written over 65 peer reviewed technical papers, has testified in over 15 trials, and has given over 150 depositions. Dr. Batzer can be contacted by clicking here.