Non-Lethal Weapons Research Paper

Essay by Demented May 2004

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Today law enforcement agencies throughout the United States use non-lethal weapons on the job. Less-than-lethal weapons are defined as," technological devices to stop and disable armed, dangerous, and violent subjects without resorting to the use of firearms."(Demsey) Non-lethal weapons have mainly been used in on-the-street confrontations like, hostage rescues, prison riots, suicide interventions and civil disturbances. These less-than-lethal weapons have been used the most when lesser force can suppress the aggressor, when lethal force isn't appropriate and if lethal force could cause collateral damage to property or bystanders. Although there are some draw backs to these new weapons like a false sense of security and strength they tend to be better then hand to hand combat or traditional non-firearms like flashlights or batons.

In 1972, a conference was held by the Attorney General and the National Science Foundation, to discuss alternatives to lethal weapons. Prior to the U.S. Supreme Court ruling to limit the use of "deadly force against felons."(Hart)

in the Tennessee Vs. Garner trial. In 1987 the U.S. Army Chemical Research, Development, and Engineering Center at Aberdeen Proving Grounds, began testing the capabilities of chemical darts. At this time the research was concentrated on the use of the darts only, until 1992 when the National Institute of Justice expanded research to include all possible non-lethal weapons.

"There are six general categories of less-than-lethal weapons that currently exist or are in development: electrical shock, chemical, impact projectile, physical restraint, light, acoustic."(Hart) TASER is an acronym for Thomas A. Swift's Electrical Rifle, which is a high voltage, low amperage hand-held projectile firing gun. On impact it pulsates current by a wired dart that can reach its target from up to fifteen feet away and penetrate up to two inches of clothing causing temporary incapacitation. The TASER only puts out...