The Extremely Worrying Yet Really Cool World Of Non-Lethal Weapons



Protester Pissing

We’re all down with the fact that killing people is generally a bad thing, right? And that doubly goes for our brave police force who, although they occasionally fuck up and kill people, by the by manage to get through most days without offing loads of punters. Mind you, when they DO kill someone there always seems to be some vaguely ambiguous reason why it was ok, or they just retire or something. But, you know, fair play to them because they sometimes have to tackle whacked-out nutnuts who want to kill THEM, and they do it — aside from the Firearms Squads who, lets have it out in the open, wear the shittest funny little hats, eh? — using non-lethal weapons.

Well, I say non-lethal, but if you hit someone repeatedly with one of those truncheons with the sticky-out-the-side bits, or with a telescopic ASP, as hard as you could I’m guessing they’d be doing some of that bad dying shit. The point with these weapons is that using them properly shouldn’t make death an option, as opposed to, say, a 9mm fired directly into the face.

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Modern UK coppers can have batons, pepper spray and, if they’re really lucky, a taser, in Tonka Truck yellow. They also get taught a bit of Tae Kwon Do, but frankly I’d have called in a helicopter gunship by the time a situation had escalated to the point that I’d have to get all Bruce Lee’d up. The UK’s a bit special though, in policing methods. A bit eccentric, compared to many other countries.

Let’s try and think of another country that isn’t so shy when it comes to putting the drop on their perps… somewhere well known for being a bit over the top…. A bit proto-fascist and dramatic and mental and gung-ho… Ummm….. Oh yeah, that’s it — America. They use batons and tasers on their kids, for godsakes. They spray each with pepper spray for BREAKFAST. They really don’t mind killing criminals. At all. And this is all kind of reflected in their approach to non-lethal weaponry. In fact, it’s reflected in the fact that they often refer to it as ‘less lethal’.

Right. Now before the days of rolling news, the internet, and several other barriers to a good old state of info suppression the police could just go shoot up a load of strikers, or billy club their way through a peaceful protest without too much hoo-ha because, by the time the actual details leaked out people were, like, toadally bored with it. These days, though, everyone walks around with the capability of broadcasting to the world in seconds, so they need to be a little bit more cautious. There’s also the changing face of social protests and the recession to consider.

I mean, it wouldn’t look very good if hundreds of starving pensioners were gunned down while having a good natured march to the White House, would it? So they counter this by inventing a geeks dream selection of weird and wonderful hurt-gadgets.  Check out these mad objects either currently in use, or being trialled (on criminals).

The Invisible Pain Ray

Active Denial System

The beautifully-named Active Denial System is the holy grail of crown control. It shoots out a big fat beam of microwaves, which heat up the skin of whoever’s unlucky enough to be rioting at the time. It becomes awful unpleasant, then you run away.

Remember that term ‘less lethal’? Well this thing can kill; it can deliver second and third degree burns over a large area of the body because it’s fucking huge. And truck-mounted. I hope it also makes some cool sci fi MMMWUAAWWWW sound when it’s used. Actually it isn’t solely truck-mounted an more because, well, shit gets smaller.

They trialled it in Afghanistan but were too PR sensitive to the fact that it could be described as a torture device if used to singe too many locals. Luckily, though, those Yanks aren’t quite so squeamish when it comes to their own home-grown prisoners, so a smaller version has been installed at the Pitchess Detention Center’s North County Correction Facility, just for giggles. They’ve also renamed it Assault Intervention System, because the word ‘assault’ is just better. They use it to break up riots, apparently.

The American Civil Liberties Union have described it as a ‘torture device’ but that doesn’t seem to be stopping other jails getting all damp-knickered about it — if the current trial is deemed successful expect a LOT of very hot rioters in a correctional facility near you.

The Eye-Fuck Laser Dazzler


I was devastated to discover, around the age of 8, that laser doesn’t have a z in it. Gutted. How can something so futurewow not have the alphabets most futurewow letter involved? And there’s even a perfectly good place for it — you wouldn’t have to fuck around with the rest of the word. Oh MAN! Yeah, anyway, lasers are BEYOND brilliant, this cannot be denied. Shining a torch in a mates eye is also pretty damn good. Futuristic mad black rifles are equally good stuff. Put them all together and you have something that in theory is cooler than an Eskimos ruler. Which is exactly what the Gs at the Air Force Research Laboratory have done. And they’ve even given it a pretty badass name too — The Personal Halting and Stimulation Response rifle, or PHaSR. See, if the Brits had come up with this they’d have called it the LED rifle, or something equally bland. Americans do names better, let’s accept it and move on.

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Apparently this badboy fires an initial beam at one frequency, which dazzles, then a second, which ‘repels’, although they don’t really explain it much past that. I guess once your blinded you’d be keen to get gone anyway, so maybe it’s just PR-talk. The PHaSR is still in the research phase, because they haven’t worked out whether it’ll leave you with two smoking holes just above your nose or not but my guessing is that they’ll be hitting the streets of America as soon as they can fudge over any negative test results.

 The Awesome Taser Shotgun

Taser Shotgun

Have you seen Natural Born Killers? Woody Harrelson’s character is such a rudeboy that the cops have to use four or five tasers to get him to the floor before they whump him good. They’re a pretty close-up weapon, though, plus they do look like old Scalectrix controllers, so orders were issued for the finest craftsmen in the kingdom to create The Awesome Taser Shotgun (my caps). What they came up with was way sicker than the original — the X12. X’s are as good as, if not better than, Z’s, so they kept rolling with the whole X thing and named the projectile the XREP, standing for extended range electronic projectile.

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Instead of the usual 20 feet, the XREP can fuck you up from a cool 100 feet. They must have a Department of the Stone Cold Groove somewhere in the Pentagon because someone decided that the X12 wasn’t quite sick enough so they roped in Australian company Metal Storm (!) who came up with the Multi-Shot Accessory Under-Barrel Launcher (MAUL).  The two companies will combine Metal Storm’s MAUL stacked projectile technology to “provide semi-automatic fire as fast as the operator can squeeze the trigger,” which boasts a full weapon reload of up to five rounds in less than two seconds. Picture five rounds of Taser XREP cartridges flying out in less than two seconds up to 30 yards away — that’s the plan.

I have an inner struggle going on at the mo. I’m saddened and concerned that the rate of taser-related deaths are on the increase, but I’m a bit giddy about such a rude piece of kit.

Calm Down, Dear, It’s Only A Non-Lethal Weapon

Chemical Gas

We’ve all seen clouds of teargas rolling over protesters on the news. Capsicum spray jetting into the eyes of ne’er-do-wells on Americas Fattest Cops. Someone leaving the room because you’ve been acting out last nights binge via the medium of fart. Using stuff to make people go somewhere else is older than the hills. Similarly you can draw people to a certain place by similar methods — apparently they used to fill the air with the scent of freshly baked bread next to the most expensive slots in Las Vegas casinos. All of this is a very attractive proposition to today’s law enforcement agencies, especially with protesting taking over from juggling and not washing for anyone with a dreadlock or two and an avant garde approach to names.

The Man is now researching delivery systems for ‘calmatives’, including topical creams (presumably the filth will be issues with huge rubber hands so that they can smear loads of hippies at once), aerosols, intramuscular darts and rubber bullets filled with inhalable gas. We’re talking sedatives, anti-depressants, opiates and anything else that might make you lose interest in launching paving slabs at the riot police. Files have been leaked showing that the US government have commissioned research into the field and somewhat worryingly, in 2008, the US Army announced that production was scheduled for its XM1063 “non-lethal personal suppression projectile,” an artillery shell that bursts in mid-air over its target, scattering 152 canisters over a 100,000-square-foot area, each dispersing a chemical agent as it parachutes down. Allegedly fentanyl — an opioid – is the intended payload so we’re talking literal opiate of the masses. It’d never work over here, there would be smack-heads rioting all over the shop, hanging out for some crowd control juice.

Skull Piercing Hot Noise Machine Of Doom


Once again microwaves are at the heart of this nightmare beast. And once again the military boffins have come up with a suitably fierce and schlocky acronym. Meet the Mob Excess Deterrent Using Silent Audio, or MEDUSA as the pumped up, crewcut bampots of Uncle Sams R and D divisions probably scream at the point of orgasm. The deal is, say you’re with all of the rest of your anti-capitalist chums shouting clever slogans into the stoney faces of the LAPD, and no matter what they request of you, you are jolly well staying where you are.

Well, this ridiculously cool kind of tank thing with a, a big BOX on it that looks like Lego, and cables and stuff, well it rocks up and just as your having the ‘ungh, crypto-fascist/wow cool’ internal argument the Rayban’d, gum chewing lacky of the New World Order flips an unnecessarily large red switch and your head gets bombarded with more fucking microwaves but these ones are in short pulses, right, and they heat up INSIDE YOUR HEAD and create a shockwave that you can hear well properly loud. Which incapacitates you. Or, according to one line of research, may cause a teensy weensy bit of umm *brain damage* ahem. Not that that’s putting off the US Navy, who are funding it. Still.

 Audio Bully


Noise annoys, as the Buzzcocks pointed out in 1979. It can also make you run away, go deaf or even die. Around for years, the LRAD (they missed a funny anagram, right there) “focuses and broadcasts sound over ranges of up to hundreds of yards” according to the sales blurb from American Technology Corporation. People first noticed it in 2009 when it was used to freak out loads of anti-G8 protesters. As versatile as a sofa bed, it has two uses; as an EXTREMELY LOUD MEGAPHONE, and as a less lethal weapon, yeah. The weapon bit involves an ear-splitting siren which can be directed and focused and by all accounts when it’s pointed at you, you really need to not be there. This mofo can cause permanent damage to your listening bits. Going one better, though, are those cuddly, blissed out Israelis. They’re even overly aggressive to their wildlife — they have this thing called the Thunder Generator, right, which basically sprays bog standard petrol in the air and then ignites it so it go BOOM! which produces a series of big fuck off bangs, thus scaring off all the pasky anti-semitic crows as what is eating the crops in a Jihadi manner. The IDF like this over the top scarecrow so much they’re militarising it, natch. Which is a bit mental because the original agricultural version can still kill if someone’s within ten yards of the blast centre. Shalom shalom.

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So there we have it. Somehow a couple of bacon-faced bobbies shaking their batons at you doesn’t seem so bad now, huh? We, domestic bitches that we are, have ‘the kettle’. They, the big shiny show off nutjobs that they are, have the ZapScreamBoom Deathinator. It’s things like this that got The Bill finally taken off-air. On a serious note, though, there are some social ramifications to consider here. The masses are getting more politically aware and becoming more organised in demanding their rights. What does The Man do? Guns-up. Makes you wonder if they have any intentions of paying more than just lip service to the notion of real democracy.



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