Re: Should we be developing nonlethal means

Michael S. Lorrey (
Sat, 02 Oct 1999 01:07:46 -0400 wrote:
> In a message dated 10/1/1999 12:46:09 AM Eastern Daylight Time,
> writes:
> << b) considering the stats show that the Death Penalty, as a policy of
> punishment under a judicial system, involving due process, right of
> appeals, trial by jury, etc. has no impact on violent crime, while death
> penalties meted out by law abiding individuals at the scene of a crime
> do have a measurable impact, I would rather that we see more of the
> latter and less of the former.>>
> I agree that the current legal system does not act as a credible
> deterrent to violent crime at present, but I think it could be made to work.
> How about a speedy trial followed by an immediate extra-jurisdictional review
> to guarantee there were no improprieties, followed by cryosuspension until
> such time as the court can guarantee that the perpetrator can be certified as
> not a danger to others and the victim deems to it appropriate to have the
> perpetrator thawed out? Or if later evidence is found which exonerates the
> prisoner they can be reanimated as soon as technology allows. It might be a
> hot day on Pluto before they get released (if ever).

I just hate the idea of spending as much money a year on a prisoner as could be made by that person in a high tech job. I personally don't think that most crooks lives are worth the $50,000.00 a year it takes to keep them locked up. If cryo is a cheap alternative storage method (obviously less room needed, less security needed, no food, sanitary, or waste costs involvded) I say chill 'em all and let the Omega Point sort them out. (Nice paraphrase, eh?) ;)

> << c) the stats also show that for every 1% of the law abiding population
> that carries arms, there is a concurrent drop in crime of 2%. I have not
> seen stats for those using non-violent means of defense, of course, but
> I think we can assume that anyone NOT using a lethal means of defense is
> obviously using a non-lethal means of defense, no matter what its
> effectiveness.>>
> I would not be surprised to find this is you have any
> references I could check out on these statistics?

The best ones are studies by Kleck as well as John Lott's seminal study of all of the FBI's crime data from 1979 to 1995, published in his book _More Guns, Less Crime_. While the gun controllers hate this book, and even if you lean in that direction, I recommend you read this book first before coming to a conclusion.

> I think it too early to say what the effects of nonlethal weapons on
> crime rate, but I would suspect that it would be strongly related to the
> efficacy of the weapon, just as I suspect that it is for lethal weapons. If
> my gun only successfully kills or incapacitates an attacker one-in-ten
> times,then it is likely to be less of a deterrent. Of course, lethal weapons
> as a general deterrent can be less effective overall due to the increased
> devastation that success brings (of course, making sentences tougher and
> surer would offset this advantage--though just how tough they'd have to be to
> do so might be an issue).
> << I know. The evidence from the Waco incident show how difficult it is to
> control the dosage a target receives. The CS gas (a chemical weapon
> banned under international treaty for use in warfare, but quite legal
> for a government to use against its own people under that same treaty
> for police purposes (i.e. we aren't that much better than Saddam in this
> situation)) that was used in those projectiles was meant to be used in
> open air situations. In the closed, indoor situation they were used in,
> they quickly overdosed the targets to lethal levels.>>
> I am not familiar with the information about CS toxicity in overdose,
> do you have any references on that I could look up?

>From the Dallas Morning News online:

> FBI to acknowledge use of pyrotechnic devices
> New account on Branch Davidian fire expected
> 08/25/99
> By Lee Hancock / The Dallas Morning News
> 1999, The Dallas Morning News
> AUSTIN - The FBI is preparing to acknowledge in a formal statement that its agents fired pyrotechnic tear gas grenades on the last day of the Branch Davidian siege, senior federal law enforcement officials said Tuesday.
> The statement would represent a reversal from the federal government's adamant, long-held position that the FBI used no device capable of sparking a fire on the day the Branch Davidian compound burned near Waco.

Earlier this week, former senior FBI official Danny Coulson told The Dallas Morning News that pyrotechnic grenades had been used on April 19, 1993, the day that the compound burned with David Koresh and more than 80 followers inside.

Mr. Coulson's statement was the first time that a former or current federal
law enforcement official publicly acknowledged the use of pyrotechnic devices on April 19. The government has long fended off accusations that

FBI agents touched off the fire on that day, but Mr. Coulson said the pyrotechnic grenades were not responsible.

Earlier Tuesday, Texas Department of Public Safety Commission Chairman James B. Francis said the Texas Rangers have "overwhelming evidence" supporting Mr. Coulson's statement about the use of pyrotechnic


"There are written reports by Rangers, there is photographic evidence,

there is physical evidence, all three of which are problematic," said Mr.


Later, officials with the U.S. Justice Department began backing away from

their long-held assertion that the FBI used no pyrotechnic devices when it

launched a tear gas assault to end the 51-day standoff with the Branch


"We've seen the reports, and we're trying to get to the bottom of them,"

said Justice Department spokesman Myron Marlin, declining to comment


Senior federal law enforcement officials in Washington said Tuesday night

that the FBI was drafting a statement that would confirm that two

pyrotechnic devices were used. A spokesperson at FBI headquarters initially told reporters that a statement would be released Tuesday afternoon but later said it had been postponed until Wednesday.

Mr. Coulson, a former assistant deputy director of the FBI and founding
commander of the hostage rescue team, told The News this week that he recently learned that two M-651 CS tear gas grenades were fired hours before the compound burned.
> Rangers' inquiry

The issue is a major focus of an ongoing inquiry by the Texas Rangers. It is
also a key allegation in a federal wrongful death lawsuit in which surviving

Branch Davidians and families of the dead have alleged that government

wrongdoing and negligence caused the tragedy.

The issue also was a factor in a decision by the state DPS to persuade a

federal judge in Waco to take control of all the evidence in the case. U.S.

District Judge Walter Smith issued a sweeping order on Aug. 8 requiring

federal authorities to turn over all physical evidence, documents, recordings

and photographs connected to the Branch Davidian tragedy.

A law enforcement official familiar with the Rangers inquiry said Tuesday
that the agency has positively identified a shell casing recovered from near
the compound as part of an M-651 CS canister, a 40 mm U.S. military device that releases tear gas with a burning explosive capable of sparking


The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the Rangers also

have strong evidence that it was used by the FBI on April 19. The official

said the shell casing's markings and distinctive shape are unique to the


"There is no question of what it is and where it came from," the official

That information was among findings shared Tuesday afternoon with two congressional investigators, who flew to Austin for a private briefing on the

Rangers inquiry.

Mike continues:
>From my own experience in the military, I know for a fact that the M-651
is intended to deploy gas in an outdoor environment, expecting at least some breeze to disperse the gas as it is emitted, while still being effective in a 10-20 meter radius, on adult men's bodies. Since most of the targets were in fact women and children, in cramped quarters, its rather obvious that used of these devices is a bit of overkill, pun intended.

> <>
> Were you referring to me? Historically, I've actually been fairly
> conservative, pro-war (in a just cause properly executed), and fairly statist
> by Extropian standards. As far as acceptable losses, I don't really think
> there are "acceptable losses" but sometimes you have to accept some risk (or
> even near certainty). Actually, to one degree or other I do that every day
> (being in medicine); it's not fun, but sometimes its just not avoidable.

Sorry if I painted too broadly, however rights are not something you can triage. You either have little or no tolerance for any infringement, or you might as well sign up for the gestapo.

> <<The hand grenades known as 'flash-bang' grenades are not lethal under
> most circumstances (though I imagine that if you stick it in someone's
> mouth that would not be the case) but are quite effective in
> stunning/incapacitating most people, will rupture the eardrims of those
> closest, and basically enable a rather small person to dominate a
> oversized opponnent who has been stunned by such devices.>>
> Two problems with flash-bangs that I can think of; I'm not sure they
> could be deployed quickly enough in a situation where you weren't ready to
> use them, and their effect only lasts a several seconds to a few minutes so
> you'd need a follow-on weapon.

Oh, heck I can imagine having one on a keychain! its at least as deployable as a pepper spray or a pistol.

> << While I share your sentiment with regards to reducing harm to victims,
> the danger is that reducing harm also reduces evidence. While use of DNA
> evidence might counteract this, it is still highly suspect by most
> typical jurors (i.e. those too dumb to find an excuse to get out of jury
> duty). Reducing evidence in real crimes makes it either extremely hard
> to convict, or you must lower the burden ov evidence to the point that
> many innocent persons will go to jail based on false or incomplete
> cases.>>
> I've been thinking about this, and I think there really might be some
> options to reduce this problem. One idea would be to have the nonlethal
> weapon incorporate GPS technology and a transmitter which would notify the
> authorities when the weapon was fired and where (of course this would make
> doing a little target practice with your weapon hard...could probably go to a
> firing range which would be deemed a free weapons release zone during
> operational hours). Also could build in a small camera that could upload
> pictures of what was being shot at. Of course, these probably could be
> circumvented, but it adds one more hurdle for the criminal use of the weapon
> (there have also been some ideas mentioned for raising a hue and cry with
> special effects like smoke, light, etc). One idea that I think might put a
> serious crimp in the usage of the liquid firing taser and perhaps some other
> types of nonlethals would be to include a malodorous, long-lasting substance
> like skunk musk to the stream. This would have a couple benefits: marking
> fleeing criminals who only received a glancing blow, providing a physical
> sign of the weapon's use upon a victim (and this may make it more difficult
> to sneak the victim away), and likely providing a big deterrent for would-be
> rapists (be difficult to sexually assault someone when you feel like puking
> your guts out from the smell). Of course, since this marker would not be an
> intrinsic part of the weapon, it would likely be possible to mix up a batch
> of ammo without the added scent, but again it would make it harder on
> criminals. And as opposed to lethal weapons, it would be a lot harder to
> coerce a victim into compliance with the threat of use (what yah gonna do,
> stink me up and carry me off?...go ahead and try).

Yeah, pure skunk is powerful stuff, I can imagine women spraying guys they don't want to talk to at clubs. Possibly might cause more crimes than it prevents.

> << The projectile, or the device (projector) must have some ability to
> sense the IR cross section of the target, and use ultrasonic or laser
> beam to sense the range, and vary the energy imparted. Ruby diode lasers
> are small enough that they are already being built into a normal
> pistol's grip, I would expect miniaturizing a receiver sensor would be
> of similar difficulty. IR sensors though that can measure cross section
> (i.e size) would be more difficult and problematic.>>
> Thanks, I see what you mean now. If the tech could be made reliable
> (which I think it could be), then that would be a solution...though I think
> it might be defeated in a situation where an aggressor is using a hostage as
> a shield.

having two bodies would obviously make a bigger IR signature, so the charge would be greater, and the operator could still make a pinpoint aim by the visible point of the ruby laser on the target.

> <<The only other possibility I see is to forcibly embed ID chips in people
> that have a transponder that transmits body mass, ID, and legal status
> information. Of course this is highly problematic from a civil rights
> perspective, so much so that I would be highly opposed to such schemes.>>
> I don't think I would like that to be in effect either.
> << I've also envisioned bullet that would be rubber coated, with a very
> soft core of lead or other dense but soft material (to maintain
> momentum). Using high twist rates on the barrel rifling or other means
> of imparting high spin rates, such bullets would flatten out from
> centripetal force within 10-30 yards, and strike the target as a large
> flat object, like a big slap. Such an impact would not break the skin
> but would be significant enough to stun an attacker as much as a punch
> from mike tyson.>>
> I think the problem with kinetic energy weapons is that they are
> designed to disable by doing damage (granted mild damage) to the body. But
> unless you use overkill (lethal) levels of kinetic energy, I think it would
> be difficult to name a precise level of kinetic energy that will guarantee
> immobilizing an attacker.

Essentially you have three choices:
EM weapons
Chemical weapons
Kinetic weapons

all have good points and bad points. My personal take is that while its more likely you can make non-lethal EM or chemical weapons, such weapons are of such great potential as tools of torture (see how frequently cops use tasers to torture prisoners), while guns are not abused in this manner nearly as much for the simple reason that discharging that weapon IS highly likely to seriously hurt or kill someone, so the potential consequences for the person pulling the trigger are much greater than for merely tickling someone with a taser, and the person pulling the trigger also understands the finality of that act, versus the taser being seen as not a lethal threat to the prisoner or victim, so its not as immoral to abuse as a gun... I beleive in the logic of deterrence by threat of overwhelming force. It seems to work.

Mike Lorrey