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Home > Toolmark Identification > Basic Toolmark Identification > AFTE Range of Conclusions > Elimination

As defined in the AFTE Glossary, elimination is a significant disagreement of discernable class characteristics and/or individual characteristics. For purposes of toolmark comparisons, an elimination is most often based on observed differences in any class characteristic.

However, an elimination based on individual characteristics is more complex. Conceptually, an elimination based on individual characteristics means that if a tool can be shown to have never been subjected to significant use or abuse over a period of time, the qualitative aspects of the marks produced on similar surfaces should remain the same. A difference in these qualities indicates an elimination.

Elimination based on individual characteristics requires a detailed knowledge of the history and treatment of the firearm, as well as documentation to support the history. It is the responsibility of the examiner to provide this historical documentation. This type of elimination should be approached with caution. Many experienced examiners have never made such an elimination, and the protocols of many laboratories do not allow it.

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