Non-lethal weapons are an alternative to lethal weapons. It is designed to enhance the ability of the police to deter or prevent hostile and threatening actions by citizens.


Under the 1033 program, the US Department of defense sends surplus military equipment to law enforcement agencies. According to Federal data, since August 2017, at least $ 760 million worth of equipment has been transferred to the police under this program, including $ 5.3 million worth of ballistic shields, gas masks, stun guns, tear gas sprayers and other special equipment that can be used to fight mass riots. During the summer protests, police used non-lethal weapons to combat looting, vandalism, and aggressive behavior by protesters.

The list below contains some of the most widely recognized and widely used “less lethal” weapons. It is important to note that even under the most favorable circumstances, such weapons are imperfect tools. Weapons used by law enforcement agencies are an alternative to lethal force.

Non-lethal riot control weapons:

  • Projectiles;
  • Pepper spray;
  • Tear gas;
  • Stun guns.


What instructions do the police have? Police are advised to shoot only aggressive protesters, and not shoot into the crowd, so that as few people as possible are injured.

Non-lethal weapons of the US police

Protester demonstrates a 40mm rubber bullet used by police during a standoff with demonstrators on may 30, 2020 in Dallas, Texas.

Non-lethal weapons of the US police

Rubber bullets picked up after protests in Louisville, Kentucky, May 31, 2020

Bean bag

What is it? A cloth bag filled with small lead pellets. Each bag usually contains 40 g of lead bullets. Since this projectile is larger than 9 mm bullets, it flies through the air at a slower speed.

The optimal distance for a shot is about 3 meters.

non-Lethal weapons of the US police

Pepper spray

Oleoresin capsicum is an oil-based compound derived from various varieties of pepper. This compound is part of pepper spray.

Pepper spray is used to temporarily blind an aggressive protester and disable them, causing burning in the eyes and irritating the respiratory tract and skin.

Pepper spray is intended for spraying in the face from the recommended distance of about 1 m.

During mass riots, police use pepper spray in cans ranging from 470 ml to 1.4 l. During the exercise, police are encouraged to try the effect of pepper spray on themselves to understand how it affects the target, and to prepare for the likelihood of" catching " the spray being sprayed during protests.

Tear gas

Police usually use tear gas to disperse crowds. There are various ways to deliver gas spray: projectiles, grenades, and sprays.

Tear gas acts the same way as pepper spray: it causes burning of the mucous membranes. Effects include reduced visual acuity, difficulty swallowing, feeling suffocated, shortness of breath, and chest tightness.

Tear gas is difficult to use against individuals or small groups, especially in windy weather.

non-Lethal weapons of the US police

Stun guns

The most common manufacturer of estung guns for the US police is TASER (Axon). These devices are designed for remote use against aggressive protesters from a distance of several meters.

As clashes continue between law enforcement and protesters, police are being criticized for using non-lethal weapons. Some companies are actively offering new high-tech tools to use instead of more dangerous options, such as rubber bullets.

non-Lethal weapons of the US police

See also

Articles about weapons, civilian self-defense equipment, and engineering projects in the OBERON-ALPHA blog.

2020-11-03 09:21:51


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