Police Toy With “Less Lethal Guns”
The U.S. Justice Department’s National Institute of Justice (NIJ) is funding research into three new directed-energy weapons that are supposed to be safer and more effective than traditional guns or crowd-control mechanisms such as tear gas and rubber bullets. However, critics note the government has carefully guarded the technical specifications about these projects so that it is impossible to know whether they could lead to abuse or cause damage to targets and bystanders.
For instance, it is likely the weapons will not leave marks, making abuse allegations difficult to prove, says University of Bradford non-lethal weapons research project researcher Neil Davison.
Although the non-lethal weapons community complains about bad publicity, the lack of transparency into development efforts breeds suspicion. Importantly, Davison notes there is demand for an adjustable level on the directed-energy weapons that could include a “lethal” setting.
Among the new weapons the NIJ is funding is a police version of the Active Denial System weapon originally developed by Raytheon for the U.S. marines in 2001. The new version will be lighter and likely have a shorter range than the 600-meter range of the original; it is designed to cause severe pain with a microwave beam.
The second device is a portable semiconductor laser that could possibly be packaged in the form of a shotgun, according to NIJ documents.
The third device delivers a “plasma flash bang” projectile that stuns and disorients the target, and is similar to the Pulsed Energy Projectile developed for the U.S. marines.
Abstracted by the National Law Enforcement and Corrections Technology Center(NLECTC) from the