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Pentagon Developed 'Laughing Bullets' 286

plasmadroid writes "It might sound like a joke, but documents unearthed by New Scientist show that the Pentagon actually funded research into 'non-lethal' bullets that would also hit a target with a dose of laughing gas. That way, they'd not only be stunned but incapacitated by fits of giggles. Another idea was to put stink bombs inside rubber bullets. I guess it would work, but the idea of crowds of rioters giggling uncontrollably while being pelted with rubber bullets is truly bizarre..."
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Pentagon Developed 'Laughing Bullets'

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  • freedom? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by flar2 ( 938689 ) on Monday July 02, 2007 @09:37AM (#19716441)
    The freest and most democratic country on Earth spends far too many of its resources on novel ways to control people.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 02, 2007 @09:44AM (#19716511)
    "Laughing Gas" won't incapacitate you from fits of laughter. It's a hypnotic agent.

    Actually quite a good idea for a payload if the delivery system works.
  • by Kiffer ( 206134 ) on Monday July 02, 2007 @09:45AM (#19716531)
    maybe they are only safe for the shooter, not the target...
  • Re:freedom? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by MarkPNeyer ( 729607 ) on Monday July 02, 2007 @09:51AM (#19716591)
    Would you rather they just used lead bullets when rioters take to the streets?
  • Bullshit!! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 02, 2007 @10:04AM (#19716773)
    The US currently spends about 4% of GDP on defense. That is a lot lower percentage than during the Cold War days.

    In other words, we have so many resources, we can spare it for military purposes. Don't forget, the US military is the de-facto security force for NATO, the UN, and countries like Japan and Korea.

  • by Moraelin ( 679338 ) on Monday July 02, 2007 @10:17AM (#19716967) Journal
    The question is: would it even work? Or would those contractors get big bucks for possibly the dumbest idea in history?

    Laughing gas not only doesn't make people actually laugh, and certainly not in the minute quantities you can fit in a rubber bullet (doubly so considering that you'll aim at the chest, not pump the gas over their nose), it gets people euphoric (a sort of high, basically), might even cause slight halucinations, and it dulls the sensation of pain.

    So shoot enough of these in an angry crowd, and now you have a crowd that's (A) angrier, since you just shot at them, (B) manic enough to do dumber things than normally, and (C) a lot less sensitive to pain. Just so, you know, they won't be as deterred by further rubber bullets or tear gas or a police batton. It sounds to me like just what you need to turn some unruly demonstrators into an outright riot. Or an outright riot into hell broken loose.

    Especially B scares me. Being high even on nitrous oxide might just impair people's judgment just that tiny little bit needed to do something really dumb. Like "heehee, let's throw a big rock at the cops." Or "heehee, let's get their guns and shoot a bystander." Sure, it's no LSD, but we're talking the kind of situations where it often takes just a spark to go downhill fast. You might need just one guy getting over his inhibitions or thinking he saw or heard the awfully wrong thing, to spark everyone else into going berserk.
  • Re:Ok, then (Score:2, Insightful)

    by estarriol ( 864512 ) on Monday July 02, 2007 @10:18AM (#19716973)
    I recommend researching more of the history of mankind before demonstrating your ignorance of it. Literally everything you said in two short sentences is highly debatable at best.
  • by badasscat ( 563442 ) <basscadet75@y a h o o . com> on Monday July 02, 2007 @10:23AM (#19717041)
    Between stuff like this and a CIA who wasted millions of $ over 25 years on a program employing psychics (I kid you not), don't you feel so much safer?

    Non-lethal weapons are hardly a waste of money. Nor are they really intended to protect anybody but the people they're being fired at. That's the point - society has all the "protection" it needs provided by police and military using lead bullets, but are we still so barbaric that we want police to shoot lethal weapons into a group of college kids who had a little too much to drink while celebrating their team's championship victory one night and end up a little too rowdy in the streets? Should the penalty for that be death?

    People here should be encouraging the development of non-lethal weapons, not making jokes about it or calling it a "waste". If you want a less abusive government, the way to get it is to promote things like non-lethal weapons.

    Not to mention both the article and article summary here seem to have been written by junior high schoolers - that's around the age when we all learn that "laughing gas" doesn't really make you laugh. Apparently somebody still hasn't figured that out. Nitrous oxide is an anesthetic and a sedative. Shoot a bunch of it at a rampaging crowd and you'll probably end up with a mob of lazy sunbathers instead of bottle-throwers.
  • by djh101010 ( 656795 ) * on Monday July 02, 2007 @10:40AM (#19717245) Homepage Journal

    Almost all bullets have a 'jacket' which protects them from deforming during the discharge and focuses the explosion. It gets cast off almost immediately.
    OK, I just burned 5 mod points by responding to this, but, What the Hell are you talking about? Jacketed bullets don't "cast off" anything. The copper jacket is to keep it from deforming in the barrel and in flight, and to control expansion when it hits the target.

    The only thing you could possibly mean is a "sabot", which is a usually plastic "shoe" type thing that is very occasionally used to protect the bullet from the rifling of the barrel, and that does fall off early in the flight of the bullet. But that's rarely used, and not by any means an "almost all" so, I think I have to back to "what the hell are you talking about".

    Also 'harmlessly' does not mean 'without effect'. You can propel anything at 100 MPH and it's going to cause some damage....

    Oh, I dunno, I get hit by photons at light speed all the time, and doesn't hurt a bit. Without knowing the energies involved, speculating about what is and isn't lethal is just speculative handwaving.
  • by Dan Ost ( 415913 ) on Monday July 02, 2007 @10:51AM (#19717417)
    A baseball could cause the exact injuries that the pepper spray dispenser did to that poor girl.

    If we were to define non-lethal as not possible to kill someone with, we couldn't even define marshmallows as non-lethal due to their choking hazard.

    I would still rather get shot by a bean bag or teargas dispenser than a bullet or lead slug. Sure, it could kill me, but it is much less likely to.
  • by dwheeler ( 321049 ) on Monday July 02, 2007 @10:55AM (#19717469) Homepage Journal
    That project needs to be stopped right away. What's the use of just temporarily incapacitating people? We need to make sure that anyone on the other end of the gun is dead, dead, dead, so we can forever enjoy the sorrow of their wives, children, and parents! Weeee! (boggle!)

    For the sarcasm-impaired: The previous paragraph is obviously lunacy. Since it's lunacy, I think having non-lethal alternatives is a GOOD idea. Foes of yesterday may be friends tomorrow (think Japan of WW II, etc.), so even if you're in a war, you may NOT need to kill your foe. It'd be great to avoid killing in many cases. Wouldn't it be great if there were LESS carnage in the future, not MORE? Wouldn't it be great if after a confrontation, most wives / children / parents got their loved ones back?!?

    Now this particular approach may not be very effective; maybe another one needs to be investigated instead. The term "non-lethal" is misleading; they DO kill occasionally (they just kill less often), and since they kill sometimes, they need to be reserved for serious situations the way lethal approaches are. That said, if you do not NEED to kill all your foes, having a "mostly non-lethal" alternative would be WAY better than the "mostly lethal" approach we have now.

    Yes, there's a risk that non-lethal approaches would be employed to create a police state. But you can have police states with lethal approaches too, and in fact, I'd argue that lethal approaches are more effective at countering civilians. Dead civilians don't try again. If there's a non-lethal approach, the civilians can try again later, something you can't say about lethal approaches.

  • by east coast ( 590680 ) on Monday July 02, 2007 @11:17AM (#19717745)
    Not to downplay the deaths of people involved in these incidents because you're absolutely right; the term 'non-lethal' has been challenged time and time again because of instances such as this. Note that the Wikipedia article does refer to the technology as 'less-lethal' as is being adopted elsewhere.

    So, sure, you're right but the overall use of these technologies are certainly much better then an outright firefight or some of the more physical methods used in the past. If it weren't for the development of 'less-lethal' devices Victoria wouldn't even be a footnote on a Wiki page. Deaths during large riots was the norm in the past, not the exception.

    Maybe there is a better way to handle it but we have made progress.
  • by aquatone282 ( 905179 ) on Monday July 02, 2007 @11:25AM (#19717849)

    Lord knows they need a sense of humor.

  • Re:freedom? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by DrDitto ( 962751 ) on Monday July 02, 2007 @11:31AM (#19717933)
    What, I was modded troll for giving an example of non-freedom in a European country? LOL! The typical Slashdotter has no idea how much freedom the U.S. citizens really have compared to the rest of the world. No, its not perfect and some smaller countries may be better. But compare to Britian, Eastern Europe, China, India, the Middle-East, Germany, etc.
  • Re:freedom? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by It'sYerMam ( 762418 ) <> on Monday July 02, 2007 @11:51AM (#19718215) Homepage
    Etc. what? You're the beacon of freedom? I find that hard to believe - we're pretty much all as useless as each other, and if we're not yet, we will be in a few years' time.
  • Re:freedom? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ConceptJunkie ( 24823 ) * on Monday July 02, 2007 @12:10PM (#19718495) Homepage Journal
    I always look at it this way. All governments suck, but the U.S.'s government sucks less than most.
  • by DeepHurtn! ( 773713 ) on Monday July 02, 2007 @12:12PM (#19718511)
    Y'know, the very stuff you describe may in fact be the point of the whole line of research. It would save their budget on agent provocateurs.
  • Re:Ok, then (Score:2, Insightful)

    by the_tsi ( 19767 ) on Monday July 02, 2007 @12:14PM (#19718543)
    Just because you're unhappy with your life, don't take it out on a whole nation.
  • Re:Ok, then (Score:3, Insightful)

    by estarriol ( 864512 ) on Monday July 02, 2007 @03:36PM (#19721045)
    Yes, indeed anyone pointing out that the USA isn't the greatest nation in all categories *must* be unhappy with their life. They're probably terrorists too.
  • by Le Marteau ( 206396 ) on Monday July 02, 2007 @03:59PM (#19721349) Journal

    I do not know if it is a fair arguing against GDP, but knowing that the US military has got 40% of the total world gross expenditure is scarry, for a nation which was not attacked in its territory by other nation in the last 100 years

    'Scarry' for who? Not for the people living in the US, that's for sure. "Not attacked by other nations for the last 100 years?" Could the reason be, because they spend "40% of the total world gross expenditure" on military?

    Not saying it's right or anything. Just thought I'd connect the dots is all.
  • by The One and Only ( 691315 ) * <[ten.hclewlihp] [ta] [lihp]> on Monday July 02, 2007 @04:44PM (#19721861) Homepage
    The US is also supposed to help repel military invasions of all of Europe, all of North America, all of South America, Japan, South Korea...I'd say when you have to defend 40% of the Earth, you can have 40% of the world's defense expenditure.
  • Re:freedom? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ConceptJunkie ( 24823 ) * on Monday July 02, 2007 @05:47PM (#19722559) Homepage Journal
    Good point, and if there were _any_ candidates worth considering, that would be a good thing, but these days, they're all the same. All beholden to monied interests, all power-grubbing, all self-motivated, all interested in securing re-election through massive spending, all interested in appearances but unconcerned about real results.

    There aren't more than a handful of people in Congress that don't seem to be completely corrupt. And I'm not too sure about them.

  • Re:freedom? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Dun Malg ( 230075 ) on Monday July 02, 2007 @11:45PM (#19726227) Homepage

    But to say America is more free then Britain what a load of bollocks. in the Vietnam era blacks had no real rights
    You mean they couldn't vote? Couldn't hold public office? Couldn't own property? You're confusing Jim Crow with Slavery.

    protesters got shot pretty often during anti Vietnam protests
    Your grasp of history is appalling. Try once, at Kent State University, in 1970.

    now they have 'freedom of speech' on lock in such a way that anyone who tries to express free speech is ignored by the media and labelled a nut job, a idiot, a moron liberal, etc.
    Are you kidding? The media loves protesters. The media loves any sort of circus. I challenge you to produce a link to a single mainstream media story that labels a protesting person or group "idiot", "nutjob", or "moron liberal".

    Freedom of speech only matters when your rich and powerful.
    Well yeah, that's always been largely the case. Nobody cares about the poor and powerless.

    If freedom of speech meant anything during this time in America bush would of been impeached by now.
    That's quite a stretch. Even if we assume there is no freedom of speech, how would the restoration thereof logically lead to impeachment? Really, the problem is lack of rational representatives in government. That comes partly from the fact that the kind of person who wants to be elected is exactly the wrong kind of person for the job, and partly from the fact that half the population has an IQ of less than 100. Being able to speak freely is not going to make Joe Barbecue next door with his Lincoln Instigator and 30' RV vote for someone who's not for "family values" and bombing foreigners. I know, it's tough to swallow, but it's not some vast conspiracy to silence the opposition that gives us bad government; it's the fact that the government we have is the government the majority have voted for. I'm not talking about the results of a single presidential election, either. I'm talking the combined weight of hundreds of elections, at all levels, over the last century plus. Sure, our current president is a fucking twit; but when you look at ANY president closely, you begin to realize that they're ALL fucking twits to some degree. Not just presidents, but elected officials in general. People are just largely fucking twits. They're greedy, selfish, and stupid. There's no getting away from it. Public education, free speech--- all valiant efforts, but you can't make a silk purse from a sow's ear. Twits is what we get, because collectively, twits is what we are.

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