Police officers across the country have used “less lethal” weaponry to disperse crowds and subdue individuals during protests. Regardless of their moniker, these instruments can nonetheless go beyond the boundaries of flesh and bone.
Devices that appear harmless, like rubber bullets or tear gas, are designed to alter human behavior rapidly using force and chemistry. And they’re offered as a substitute to any kind of force that kills pretty quickly. However, such weapons are not innocuous.
There are three categories of blunt-force weapons. First is blunt-force weapons, intended to cause physical harm to individuals. The second is chemical agents intended to irritate or hinder people. A third category includes specialized technology that ranges from the electric shocks delivered by handheld Tasers to weaponized sound waves.
Rubber bullets have been used by soldiers and police in various settings, beginning in Northern Ireland in the 1970s and continuing this month in Washington, D.C. However, they are merely one from a group of projectiles known as “baton rounds” that have long been employed as a substitute for regular bullets.
One such item was described in the December 1969 issue of the FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin utilized by the British government for riot control in Hong Kong, which was a British-dependent colony back then. The bullet was fired by compressed gas and featured a teak shell with a little lead inlay.
Wooden baton rounds today are wider and more puck-shaped. They’ve been utilized by cops all around the country, from Seattle to Ferguson. Other less-lethal projectiles still in use, in addition to rubber and wood, include plastic bullets, which have caused injuries and deaths, and gun-propelled satchels filled with lead shot, known as “beanbag rounds,” which similarly hinder victims.