Expert Witnesses in Gun-Related Cases

In gun related cases, it is often critical to utilize an expert witness.

An expert witness is a person who testifies in court about a matter that involves special knowledge or expertise. Doctors are often expert witnesses when an injury or illness is at issue, just as an accountant may be an expert witness when a case involves complex financial matters. In cases where a firearm is involved, there is often quite a benefit to having an expert who is knowledgeable about guns.

In self defense shooting cases, a firearms expert may be called to testify about the realities of defensive gun use, and how it is often unreasonable to second-guess a person who was in fear for their safety.  The difficult that a person faces when acting in self defense due to environmental considerations, such as lighting, unfamiliar surroundings, etc., may also be an area where testimony from an expert witness is useful.

Gun experts can be useful in civil lawsuits where negligence is alleged as well.  There a gun expert may be able to discuss failure modes of the gun that could result in an inadvertent discharge, which can have significant implications for a gun owner (and the manufacturer of the gun as well).  The reasonable standard of care in terms of storage of a gun could also be within the expert’s qualifications to discuss, especially if that expert has experience in giving firearms safety training.

Finding the right gun expert is key, and the right expert for one case may not be the right expert for another case.  As an attorney who has used expert testimony in firearms-related cases, I like to find an expert who is very familiar with the gun(s) and situation at issue in the case, and who is also able to relate well to a jury.  It is critical that the expert is both knowledgeable and able to explain matters in a way that the jury (and judge) can comprehend and internalize.

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Those who are facing a gun-related case are well advised to retain an attorney who is familiar with guns and who understands the value in expert testimony, as gun-related cases often have high stakes for the client.