>A nonlethal device that no one would be seriously hurt with. (absent the odd
>heart attack...but surely less lethal than airborne lead poisoning)...but ever
>bit as much a deterrant as a firearm.
However, according to Gary Kleck's research the deterrent effect works both ways; criminals are deterred from attacking people with guns, but also criminals with guns are deterred from physical attacks because the guns are likely to kill if used. A criminal with a gun is less likely to use it than a criminal with a knife... and a criminal with a non-lethal weapon like this will just shoot you from cover then rob you, rape you or whatever and run away.
So non-lethal weapons may *increase* the crime rate, not reduce it. Unless you're miraculously going to prevent criminals getting them... but if you could do that we could do it with normal guns too.