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Jews For The Preservation of Firearms Ownership, Inc.
P.O. Box 270143
Hartford, WI 53027

Phone (800) 869-1884
Fax (425) 451-3959

November 28, 2005

Could Science Prove You Guilty of a Crime You Didn't Commit?

In a criminal trial, we might be skeptical of the testimony of an eyewitness or a psychologist. But when a forensic scientist or lab technician takes the stand, we take notice.

So do juries.

But should anyone accept "scientific" testimony at face value? And more importantly, are police and prosecutors putting innocent citizens through hellish ordeals on the basis of many different varieties of questionable "evidence"?

Last week, the journal _New Scientist_ dropped the latest bombshell. They gave us one more huge reminder that government scientists and technicians are just as fallible as anyone, and that "scientific evidence" may not be what it seems.

The new revelations are particularly important to gun owners.


In the last eight years, serious doubts have been cast on the reliability of fingerprint evidence and the honesty and competence of FBI lab work. More recently, JPFO has exposed incompetence and lack of standards in the ATF's firearms testing. (See links below.)

Now _New Scientist_ ( tells us that "gun-shot residue" (GSR) used to "prove" that a person fired a gun in an attack may not actually be GSR at all. And even if it is, it didn't necessarily come from firing a gun!

Read the article. You'll learn, among other things, that:

* False GSR can get on a person's hands when they handle fireworks, certain industrial tools, or brake linings. (Apparently mechanics are particularly susceptible to being accused of firearms-related crimes.)

* Even when GSR actually is GSR, traces on a person's hands don't mean they fired a gun or committed any crime. The background amount of GSR found in a crime lab, for instance, may be greater than that found on a defendant's hands!

* One of the best places to get GSR on your hands is -- this is ironic -- the back seat of a police car.

Furthermore, there are no consistent standards for determining whether traces on a person's hands are actually GSR, or what concentrations of genuine GSR are required to prove anything at all.

Finally, the article doesn't say it, but it's probable that virtually every recreational shooter is frequently covered with genuine -- but entirely innocent -- gun-shot residue.


We have written before that prosecutors are increasingly concerned more with their "stats" -- their conviction percentages -- than with actual justice.

Couple this with the vast number of new crimes constantly being created by governments and with the outrageous mandatory minimum sentences for anyone convicted of a "gun crime," and you have a recipe for disaster.

Furthermore, with programs like Project Safe Neighborhoods actively seeking to prosecute "gun crimes" (including the most non-violent acts) no gun owner is safe. If a jury hears that we have gun-shot residue on our hands or that our fingerprints were found at a crime scene, they don't know enough to question the "facts."

The "expert" from the government says it's true. And the "scientific evidence" says it's true. And so off to prison we go ... for five or 10 or 15 years, or a lifetime.

In a culture that truly respected the Bill of Rights -- a culture where laws were few and understandable, a culture where government was limited and not given so much automatic, unthinking respect -- abuses like this would be few and far between. Prosecutors would not have such awesome power. Independent agencies would have a stake in making sure that science was truly scientific. And far fewer innocent people would be dragged into court in the first place.

We need to improve the science behind forensics. We need more honest prosecutors and police departments. But above all, we need a Bill of Rights culture -- a culture that values individual rights and seeks _true_ justice for all.

A Bill of Rights culture is something only you and I can create, one awakened mind at a time.

- The Liberty Crew


Unreliable evidence from the FBI crime lab

Casting doubts on the reliability of fingerprinting

Malfeasance and lack of standards at the Bureau of
Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives

The State vs. the People by Claire Wolfe and Aaron Zelman
(This book contains information on prosecutorial malfeasance and its role in the police state.)

Mandatory minimum sentences for "gun crimes" --
One catastrophic case

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