Re: Should we be developing nonlethal means
Sat, 2 Oct 1999 05:35:21 EDT

In a message dated 10/2/1999 1:12:53 AM Eastern Daylight Time, writes:

<< 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?) ;) >>

I agree that the amount of money spent on imprisonment is sickening (I had a subject a while back on alternatives to imprisonment). And yes, I laughed at the paraphrase.

<<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. >>

Thanks for the references, I'll have to check them out. BTW, I don't really lean towards gun control personally.

<<>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. Francis.
> 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 Davidians.
> "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 further.
> 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 fires.
> 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 M-651.
> "There is no question of what it is and where it came from," the
official said.
> 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.>

It might have been accidentally deleted, but I don't see any mention of tear gas toxicity in this release....unless you were referring to the ordinance's pyrotechnic qualities, which I would think of more as a sid effect as opposed to a toxicity.

<<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.>>

No apology necessary; I found it funny more than anything else. And I admire your protection of rights, but I think that in a less than perfect world people sometimes have to balance conflicting rights; that's one reason I am a Transhumanist, to try and create a better way of doing things so that happens less (may take a few centuries, but hey, that's what immortality's for<G>). I never try to infringe on rights but sometimes you have rights in conflict that are mutually exclusive, so that there is no way to avoid infringement given the options at the time.

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

Except that it has to be thrown, while I think a high velocity round would be faster ( It also has to be on a timer to allow it to clear your hand). And of course you dtill need a follow-on weapon if you wish to prevent your attacker from striking once the effects wear off

<<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.>>

Say, don't people say the same thing about guns?<g> Again, I think it might be worht the risk (and how do you think those women would act if they knew the guy was also carrying some skunk spray? Showdown at the Stinky Corral or would it act as a deterrent?

<< 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.>>

Yeah, but if the range were a bit long there might be time for the target to shift and you could end up hitting the hostage with a possibly lethal dose. Still, the hostage has a better chance than if they were hit by a lethal round.

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

all have good points and bad points.>>

In general, I agree, though I'm not sure whether acoustic weapons should be added or considered a form of kinetic weapon. Also, we could add entangling weapons like sticky foam or shotgun ejected bolos, which haven't really been addressed yet.

<<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.>>

I understand there is the potential for abuse, as with all things, but I'd rather risk torture than death....easier to recover from torture at the present time. And quite frankly, I don't need any new methods to torture someone, I can do quite well with some classics and likely not leave a mark. I never was a fan of mutually assured destruction; much prefer mutually assured indestructibility. And I think my preferred deterence would be near certain apprehension and the application of appropriate consequences for their actions. Nonlethal weaponry would only be a part of that goal. Having said all that, I do think that if almost every law-abiding citizen went around armed with conceal firearms, it would be a powerful way to curb crime. But if they went around with effective nonlethal weaponry, and had a justice system that worked you could probably do as well, and avoid some tragedies in the process.

On a practical note, considering the current difficulties inherent in developing an absolutely nonlethal weapon, maybe it would be prudent to set our sights a little lower in the short term and accept some risk of death in our "nonlethal" weapon (though much, much less than with firearms and other "lethal" weapons). In this vein, using something like a powerful benzodiazepine or curare derivative would be quite effective. And remember, the method of death from these two would usually be respiratory long as CPR were intitiated immediately and either a counteragent or ventilator were available later, the respiratory failure would not lead to death or even permanent incapacitation. So perhaps we can make due with a nearly nonlethal weapon. At least until something better arrives.

Glen Finney

PS, maybe it would be a good idea to carry some flashbangs along with whatever other form of personal defense we have, can only help<g>.