Sheriff

Scientists worried by riot control ray gun
Wed Jul 20, 2:03 PM ET

LONDON (Reuters) – Scientists are questioning the safety of a Star Wars-style riot control ray gun due to be deployed in Iraq next year.

The Active Denial System weapon, classified as “less lethal” by the Pentagon, fires a 95-gigahertz microwave beam at rioters to cause heating and intolerable pain in less than five seconds.

The idea is people caught in the beam will rapidly try to move out of it and therefore break up the crowd.

But New Scientist magazine reported on Wednesday that during tests carried out at Kirtland Air Force Base in New Mexico, participants playing the part of rioters were told to remove glasses and contact lenses to protect their eyes.

In another test they were also told to remove metal objects like coins from their clothing to avoid local hot spots developing on their skin.

“What happens if someone in a crowd is unable for whatever reason to move away from the beam,” asked Neil Davison, coordinator of the non-lethal weapons research project at Britain’s Bradford University.

“How do you ensure that the dose doesn’t cross the threshold for permanent damage? Does the weapon cut out to prevent overexposure?,” he added.

The magazine said a vehicle-mounted version of the weapon named Sheriff was scheduled for service in Iraq in 2006 and that U.S. Marines and police were both working on portable versions.

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About Jay Babcock

I am an independent writer and editor based in Tucson, Arizona. In 2022: I publish a weeklyish email newsletter called LANDLINE = https://jaybabcock.substack.com Previously: I co-founded and edited Arthur Magazine (2002-2008, 2012-13) and curated the three Arthur music festival events (Arthurfest, ArthurBall, and Arthur Nights) (2005-6). Prior to that I was a district office staffer for Congressman Henry A. Waxman, a DJ at Silver Lake pirate radio station KBLT, a copy editor at Larry Flynt Publications, an editor at Mean magazine, and a freelance journalist contributing work to LAWeekly, Mojo, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, Vibe, Rap Pages, Grand Royal and many other print and online outlets. An extended piece I wrote on Fela Kuti was selected for the Da Capo Best Music Writing 2000 anthology. In 2006, I was somehow listed in the Music section of Los Angeles Magazine's annual "Power" issue. In 2007-8, I produced a blog called "Nature Trumps," about the L.A. River. From 2010 to 2021, I lived in rural wilderness in Joshua Tree, Ca., where I practiced with Buddhist teacher Ruth Denison and was involved in various pro-ecology and social justice activist activities.

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