U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

NCJRS Virtual Library

The Virtual Library houses over 235,000 criminal justice resources, including all known OJP works.
Click here to search the NCJRS Virtual Library

The Emerging Field of Firearms Audio Forensics

NCJ Number
Date Published
August 2023

This web article presents Dr. Robert Maher's research into understanding gunshot acoustics, an effort that has spanned eight years and three grants from the National Institute of Justice (NIJ). 


Dr. Robert Maher received a cold call asking if he could match a gun that was allegedly used in a crime to an audio recording from the crime scene of a gun being fired. Sitting at his desk in his Montana State University office, his initial reaction was “I really don’t think that is possible.” After hanging up, he thought back to what he had read over the years and realized that there wasn’t enough data to answer that question properly. It’s not that it might not be possible, he thought; it’s simply that we just don’t know. Thus began his research into gunshot acoustics that has spanned eight years and three grants from the NIJ. This article discusses Maher’s NIJ-funded work in firearms audio forensics.