Non-lethal rounds are those that are designed to incapacitate rather than kill a target. To achieve this incapacitation, the rounds rely on the transfer of kinetic energy and blunt force injuries. Plastic bullets, rubber buckshot, soft polymer rounds, wax bullets, rubber bullets, beanbag rounds, sponge grenades, ring airfoil projectiles (both kinetic and tear gas projectiles), and rubber bullets with electroshock effect (e.g. Taser XREP rounds) are less harmful than typical metal bullets.
Flexible baton rounds are sometimes referred to as bean bag bullets. High-velocity paintball guns, such as the FN 303 launcher and PepperBall commercial products, have recently been employed to launch less-lethal shots. A propulsion energy source may not yet have been explicitly determined and/or finalized for the Variable Velocity Weapon Concept. In any case, all of these technologies use the same basic mechanism: a mass is sent at the target that reacts kinetically.
Non-lethal weapons are designed to reduce the risk of injury or death. While these weapons have the potential to badly harm or kill humans, fatalities are uncommon. The causes of death from non-lethal weapons are numerous and sometimes ambiguous. Different incidences of mortality have been linked to misplaced or ricocheting bullets, pre-existing medical problems, insufficient user training, repetitive applications, and purposeful usage.
Because different regions of the body are vulnerable to different weapons, and humans vary in weight and fitness, any weapon powerful enough to incapacitate may be capable of killing in certain situations. As a result, non-lethal force carries the possibility of inflicting death: “non-lethal” simply means “not meant to kill” in this context.
Several organizations believe that non-lethal weapons and methods for their usage can be greatly improved. The relative safety of such weapons is frequently predicated on their being used “correctly.” Rubber bullets, for example, were designed to be fired at the ground and only strike the target after ricochet, and other non-fatal bullets are designed to be fired towards the lower body; nonetheless, they can be lethal if fired directly at the head.
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