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No Such Thing as “Non-Lethal” Weapons

Reading the coverage and watching the horrifying footage of the police breaking up the occupy Oakland protest, it is an important time to remind everyone, especially the media, that there is no such thing as “non-lethal” weapons. There are only weapons that tend to be less deadly.

The weapons often used by police for crowd control, such as rubber bullets, electric weapons, flashbang grenades, pepper spray, firehouses, etc… may not be meant to kill.  But that doesn’t change the fact that they are capable of killing individuals and have killed people in the past.

Any weapon that has enough force that it is capable of inflecting sufficient pain or injury to stop a full grown adult male under the right circumstances can also kill a person. What might merely be a very painful injury for most individuals can be deadly when applied to the exact right spot on the body or to someone with certain medical conditions.

Flashbang grenades have killed. Rubber bullets have killed. Electric shock based weapons have killed. Pepper spray has killed.

When police decide to use these weapons on American citizens, they are not using “non-lethal” tools to disperse a crowd. They are using weapons that although designed not to kill, have the potential to kill.

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Jon Walker

Jon Walker

Jonathan Walker grew up in New Jersey. He graduated from Wesleyan University in 2006. He is an expert on politics, health care and drug policy. He is also the author of After Legalization and Cobalt Slave, and a Futurist writer at