While activists assess the health fallout from the CS gas debacle in Quebec, just around the corner there's a new wave of even more frightening crowd-control weapons: lasers that disorient, chemicals that induce paralysis, radio-frequency weapons that play with your head, electrified nets, toxic foams. Coming soon to a protest near you.
Category 1: Calmatives
What they are: synthetic chemicals and morphine-like analgesics
How they're deployed: dart gun
Effects: sleep, slowed breathing, mental confusion, elevated blood pressure, vomiting, paralysis
Dangers: Certain derivatives of analgesics being tested are more toxic than nerve agents.
Where they've been used: The South African government has already experimented with ecstasy as a means of crowd control.
Manufacturer: U.S. Chemical Corp.
Category 2: Entanglements
What they are: sticky foams, net guns
How they're deployed: spray gun, cannon, grenade
Effects: immobilize and paralyze targets
Dangers: Sticky foam poses a risk of suffocation; requires special solvents to remove
Where they've been used: A number of law enforcement agencies around the world already have net guns.
Manufacturers: Alliant Tech, Minneapolis, Minnesota; Sandia National Laboratories, Albuquerque, New Mexico; Armament Research Development and Engineering Center (ARDEC), New Jersey
Category 3: Directed-Energy Weapons
What they are: lasers, bright lights, sound, radio frequencies emitted by dazzle devices
How they're deployed: acoustic bullets, blastwave projectors, UV lasers, powerful infra-sound weapons, microwave systems, isotropic radiators
Effects: electric shock, muscle paralysis, strong physical bodily trauma, involuntary defecation, raised body temperature, temporary blindness
Dangers: potentially fatal; precursors to the development of high-frequency electromagnetic technologies to manipulate human behaviour
Where they've been used: Prototype Saber 302 laser dazzle system was used by U.S. marines in combat during operation Restore Hope in Somalia.
Manufacturers: Scientific Applications and Research Associates, Huntington Beach, California; ARDEC
Category 4: Designer Bio-Weapons
What they are: cell-membrane-level micro-organisms
How they're deployed: in food, water and other means
Effects: paralyze synaptic pathways, induce reversible crippling
Dangers: The Human Genome Project, in mapping some 3 million pairs of human genes, has found significant differences in blood group proteins, making possible the development of bio-weapons to target specific racial groups or toxins that select a particular gene marker.
OTHER SCARY CROWD-CONTROL TECHNOLOGIES ALREADY ON THE MARKET
Electric-shock-emitting riot shields; hand-held shock batons that discharge 50,000 to 400,000 volts of electricity; mobile razor-wire-dispensing vehicles to corral protestors; neural-inhibiting plasma guns; tear-gas-spraying water cannons and helicopters; electroshock stun weapons; air guns that deliver a knockout punch at half the speed of sound; dart launchers.
Sources: European Parliament report, An Assessment Of Crowd Control Technology Options; Non-lethal Technologies: A framework For Future Integration, U.S. Air Force advanced munitions office; Armament Research Development and Engineering Center; Scientific Applications and Research Association; Sandia National Laboratories; U.S. Defence Associations National Network News