Non-lethal weapons, often known as less-lethal weapons, do not kill people. Less-than-lethal weapons, also known as non-deadly weapons, compliance weapons, or pain-inducing weapons, are less likely to kill a living target than traditional weapons like knives and live ammo rifles.
Unintended or inadvertent casualties are common when force is used. Still, non-lethal weapons attempt to reduce the danger of casualties (e.g., serious/permanent injuries or death) as much as possible. Non-lethal weapons are Employed in policing and military scenarios to prevent conflict from escalating when using fatal force is illegal or undesirable, when rules of engagement require minimal casualties, or when policy prohibits the use of conventional force.
Some groups prefer the word less-lethal because it appropriately depicts the dangers of mortality than the term non-lethal, which some claim is a misnomer. Conventional military forces can use non-lethal weapons in various operations across the force spectrum.
They may also be employed for peacekeeping and stability operations by military police, UN forces, and occupying forces. Non-lethal weaponry can also be employed to channel a battlefield, regulate civilian population movement, or restrict civilian access to restricted areas like the USMC’s 1st Marine Expeditionary Force did in Somalia in 1995.
Domestically, police forces deploy similar weapons, tactics, strategies, and procedures in riot control, prisoner management, crowd control, refugee control, and self-defense, where “less-than-lethal” is frequently used.
Police personnel worldwide had few, if any, non-lethal choices for riot control before developing non-lethal weaponry. A slowly advancing wall of men with batons, officers on horses trained to deal with policing scenarios, or a charge into a crowd using the flats of sabers were all common non-lethal or less-lethal tactics used by police. Shotguns with lower-powered cartridges, “salt shells,” bean-bag rounds, and ricocheting projectiles off the ground were all rather successful tactics.
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