A group of experts Tuesday called for an overhaul of the FBI’s process of analyzing the chemical makeup of bullets to try to link them to specific crimes, citing, in part, broad overstatements examiners have made in criminal cases that had no scientific basis.

The National Research Council study said the 4-decade-old technique of analyzing the chemical content of a bullet’s lead was still permissible for use in court, even before recommended changes are implemented, though such evidence at best should be considered circumstantial.

The research found that the FBI’s error rate is unknown, that the bureau needs to shore up the proficiency of its examiners, that the agency’s statistical analysis is weak and that its reports have failed to properly explain the technique’s limitations.

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