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The Personal Halting And Stimulation Response rifle The Personal Halting And Stimulation Response rifle

Non-lethal weapons

New advancements in modern weaponry are surprisingly being aimed not towards the loss of life, but towards the prevention of conflict. We are all familiar with tasers, tear gas, rubber bullets, smoke grenades, and other non-lethal devices used for crowd control or disabling an assailant. The problems with many of today’s “classic” non lethal weapons—they in fact can be lethal. Tasers cause electrical shock which, when used repeatedly, can in some instances cause death. Rubber bullets may impact a vital part of the body such as the temple, eye, or throat. The next generation of non lethal weapons are being designed to be much more effective, and therefore much safer.

The device that has probably gotten the most hype has been developed by the military and has been dubbed the Heat Ray or Pain Ray. Its appearance is un-daunting, at first, looking like a satellite mounted on a humvee. I say at first because once exposed to the Heat Ray’s capabilities you won’t be looking at your satellite receiver the same way again. The Heat Ray, or as it’s officially known, the Active Denial System, uses high-frequency microwave radiation that “excites” the water molecules in a person’s skin. This gives a sensation of heat or burning that becomes unbearable in a short amount of time, making anybody not only stop in their tracks, but get out of the area fast. The term microwave makes people nervous, but the military assures us there is no lasting damage and once out of the way of the beam the burning sensation stops immediately. The Heat Ray has a range of about 500 yards.

Another device that also proves effective at long range is the LRAD, short for Long Rang Acoustic Device. As the name would suggest, the LRAD emits a very loud tone in a relatively tight beam width that is uncomfortable to the recipient. At close ranges the LRAD can permanently damage hearing and its maximum effective range is around 300 yards. The downside to the LRAD is that strong hearing protection could be used to bypass it; without protection though, the tone emitted from the LRAD can be quite painful.

Jumping right out of Star Trek we have the PHASR (Personal Halting and Stimulation Response rifle). Not only is the PHASR named after the phasers from Star Trek, but it even looks like a sci-fi weapon as well. The PHASR is used like a rifle and fires a two-wavelength laser system that temporarily blinds the target. Blinding lasers were banned under the 1995 UN Protocol on Blinding Laser Weapons but the U.S. designed PHASR gets by the protocol because it only blinds temporarily. It’s still just a prototype but the military is itching for a device in the field that would prove invaluable for defense.

The last non lethal device I’ll cite here is a taser like you’ve never seen before. Taser, the same company that supplies police stations around the world, has broken down everything that makes its guns work and fit it into a 12 gauge, shotgun-size shell. I think you can guess where this is going… With taser pistols officers need to be within 35 feet of the target. As the pistol shoots its two darts at the target, a wire follows them and stays connected to the officer’s pistol. The new Taser XREP (Extended Range Electro-Muscular Projectile), on the other hand, is accurate from up to 100 feet away and is fired out of any standard 12 gauge pump-action shotgun. On impact the XREP delivers 20 seconds of continuous shock to give the officer time to apprehend the target.

We can only hope the these non lethal weapons prove effective and that more are on the way so that unnecessary bloodshed can be stopped.

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Author info

Thomas McMahon Thomas McMahon is a student at Albertson's College of Idaho who, when he's not playing some geeky video game or designing some new, award-winning engineering project, plays basketball and tennis. His study interest is engineering.

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