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From microwave energy blasters and blinding laser beams to chemical agents and deafening sonic blasters, these weapons are at the cutting edge of crowd control.
The US is at the forefront of an international arms development effort that includes a remarkable assortment of technologies, which look and sound like they belong in a Hollywood science fiction thriller. From microwave energy blasters and blinding laser beams, to chemical agents and deafening sonic blasters, these weapons are at the cutting edge of crowd control.
The Pentagon's approved term for these weapons is "non-lethal" or "less-lethal" and they are intended for use against the unarmed. Designed to control crowds, clear streets, subdue and restrain individuals and secure borders, they are the 21st century's version of the police baton, pepper spray and tear gas. As journalist Ando Arike puts it, "The result is what appears to be the first arms race in which the opponent is the general population."
The demand for non-lethal weapons (NLW) is rooted in the rise of television. In the 1960s and '70s the medium let everyday Americans witness the violent tactics used to suppress the civil rights and anti-war movements.