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So with the whole meltdown of the financial system, you're probably thinking about rioting soon. But while you gather up your bottles and stones and get ready to face down The Man, there's something you should know.

The riot police and military are both plunging into the future of crowd control, inventing space-age weapons that won't kill you, but will make you wish they had. Such as...

6The PHASR (aka Crowd-Blinding Rifle)

This futuristic weapon is being developed by the US military, who call it the Personal Halting and Stimulation Response rifle. Why such a clumsy name? Because they wanted to call it a PHASR. Get it! Like in Star Trek! How cute! There's no way this thing could turn out to be horrifying!

They also call these weapons "dazzlers," proving for the second time in two paragraphs that many weapons designers have never known the touch of a woman. It projects a laser and is intended to "dazzle" and temporarily blind the target. It's kind of like one of those annoying laser pointers crossed with the BFG from Doom.

Why It Won't Kill You:

According to the makers of the weapon, when used properly it doesn't, under any circumstances, kill you or do any lasting damage. The beam temporarily blinds bad guys so they can be arrested, or they can be set up as a perimeter defense to keep an attack at bay.

Why You'll Wish it Had:

Ever went for a piss in the middle of the night, walked into the bathroom and turned on the light? Hurts, huh? Well this thing is many hundreds of times more powerful, and specially designed to project a wavelength that's most effective at short-circuiting your eyeballs.

Not many other nations are developing this technology. Now, this could be because the US military is far superior to those of the rest of the world. Or it could be that the 1995 Protocol on Blinding Laser Weapons banned lasers and the US military just couldn't give a fuck about international weapons bans.

The ban came after concern from humanitarian groups, something about potential crowds of blinded refugees wandering around in a war zone and slowly starving to death. So the PHASR developers just turned own the power enough to skirt the ban.

The problem is that they still had to make it powerful enough that even the biggest badass enemy soldier would still go running the opposite direction, screaming and clutching his eyeballs, but that it somehow wouldn't do any damage to an innocent toddler's still-developing retinas. Seems like kind of a fine line there, but we're sure they know what they're doing.

5The Active Denial System (aka Massive Pain Ray)

The Active Denial System (ADS) is a giant heat ray (or pain ray as it's informally and less ambiguously known). The weapon fires electromagnetic radiation at the target causing a painful burning sensation.

It can penetrate through layers of clothing, though apparently can't pass through thick metal such as a trash can, so basically Oscar the Grouch should be fine but Big Bird is fucked.

Why It Won't Kill You:

The military says the ray only causes the impression of burning (they say your hair won't actually catch on fire, for instance). The ray just barely penetrates the skin, just enough to make your nerve endings think you're on fire. To prove this, they often invite people to stand in front of it.

Why You'll Wish it Had:

The military insists the weapon is safe because targets run away so quickly, and don't get a whole lot of exposure. Likewise, concerns that it can melt your fucking eyes were answered by pointing out how quickly people snap their eyes shut and turn away when blasted with the beam. So, what if you can't run away? Like, say, you are wounded because you're in a fucking war zone? We suppose you're going to lay there and feel like somebody stuck you in a microwave oven.

Not to mention that all of the safety testing was conducted by the army. The same people who want a green light given on the weapon's safety. So the testing procedure probably went like this:

The Army: Is that weapon safe?

The Army: Yes.

The Army: Excellent.

That problem is all of the scenarios that don't come up in testing (for instance when cops found out that tasers plus pepper spray equals fire). So the military will have a lot of explaining to do when the ADS crosses streams with a PHASR up there and sends the victim into another dimension.

4The Laser Induced Plasma Channel (aka Invisible Pain Fence)

The Laser Induced Plasma Channel, or Portal Denial System, is the kind of electric barrier/force field we've seen in sci-fi for decades. So, it can be set up in a corridor to allow only authorized people to pass through it. Should unauthorized people pass through it, well, let's just say they'll have an electrifying experience. They might get quite a shock. They will suffer severe electric burns.

It's basically this:


Yeah, go get yourself a crowbar.

Why It Won't Kill You:

The Plasma Channel delivers a non-lethal electric charge which means it won't kill you, just as tasers won't kill you. They just make you thrash around and scream about injustice. Besides, if you happen to see the below in a corridor and you don't stay the fuck away from it, then you deserve everything you get. And what you'll get is 10,000 volts. Darwinism in action people.

Why You'll Wish it Had:

Ever stumble and fall into a wall? Did it hurt? Ever stumble and fall into an electric fence? Did that hurt? Ever stumble and fall through an electric barrier leaving your body caught between the electrified plasma channels, twitching in the high voltage current while you scream out in pain at the Portal Denial System operator who can't hear you because he's listening to baseball?

If not, then don't worry. The system is being developed for both "military and civilian applications," so you'll have plenty of chances to find out.

3Taser XREP (aka Electrified Shotgun Shells)

The problem with a Taser is that you've got to be pretty close to make it work, about 20 feet or so. A number of companies are racing to fix that problem, developing non-lethal bullets that can hit you with rib-shattering force from a distance, and then deliver an electric shock just to rub it in. Because you can never be to careful when it comes to hippies and protesters.

Once again leading the charge is Taser International, the company you may remember from such YouTube videos as Don't Tase Me Bro. They've developed their Taser XREP, a shotgun round that hits you, sticks to your body, and delivers a 20-second shock while you writhe on the ground.

Why It Won't Kill You:

It operates on the same principle as the supposedly-safe Taser (the XREP is basically just a Taser that can be fired from a further distance and without the need for a connecting wire). If used properly the Taser won't do any lasting damage (according to Taser International and the police anyway. Human rights groups have a slightly different view).

Why You'll Wish it Had:

Fun fact: Tasers are named after Tom Swift, the adolescent adventurer from the Tom Swift novels (it stands for "Thomas A. Swift Electric Rifle ), which is something you can think on while you curl up in the fetus position, muscles convulsing and contracting involuntarily, nerve endings screaming out in pain.

And that's assuming you're capable of thought after being hit by an electric bullet, you may just be instinctively clutching at the electrode darts impaled in your lower back but which you can't quite reach because a cop's knee is on your arm and his foot's in your face.

Or, maybe you can console yourself with the fact that it didn't hit you in the eye.

2The Pulsed Energy Projectile (aka Magic Missile)

The Pulsed Energy Projectile (PEP) used to be called the Pulsed Impulsive Kill Laser, before they toned it down for PR reasons (and because the acronym is basically "pickle"). It's mounted on a truck, plane or helicopter and fires an invisible laser pulse at a target.

On impact the pulse creates exploding plasma, which is exactly as painful as it sounds. It's like having five flash grenades strapped to your head and then exploded at once.

Why It Won't Kill You:

The PEP sounds like it should kill you, what with the whole "expanding ball of plasma" thing. Also, according to a Department of Defense document, it can "literally chew through target material."

However, while the weapon can be modified to kill people, the developed version won't, assuming it's used responsibly. And there is, of course, no reason at all to assume soldiers in a war zone or police officers in the middle of a violent riot would ever use it any other way. Ever.

Why You'll Wish it Had:

A document obtained by an anti- biological weapons pressure group revealed that the weapons contract between the Office of Naval Research and the University of Florida (who apparently develop weapons now) called for researchers to find the "optimal pulse parameters to evoke peak nociceptor activation" or, in other words, the best way to inflict absolute maximum ball-crushing pain on a target's nervous system.

The expanding plasma created by the PEP triggers nerve cells and can create unpleasant stimuli, such as heat or cold. A fine tuned PEP could create the sensations of being burned, frozen or dipped in acid- all without causing any actual visible harm.

All this is on top of the fact that a 2003 US Naval Studies Board found the PEP produced temporary paralysis as well as pain. Or perhaps that's just the body trying to figure out what the fuck has just happened to it.

1The Vortex Ring Gun (aka The Fart Gun)

The vortex ring gun works by creating a cone-shaped pocket of supersonic pressurized air. When this hits the target (Read: hippie) it should knock him over.

Wait, that's not the best part.

A chemical, like an incapacitating agent or a malodorant (a bad, choking smell) is also injected into the air pocket. So it's basically a powerful, bad smelling wind that will knock you of your feet. Yes, it's like having Robocop fart you over.

Why It Won't Kill You:

In demonstrations the weapon has knocked down a 160-pound mannequin from a distance of 10 meters, and is believed to be effective from up to twice that range. Getting knocked over isn't going to kill anybody, right? Not unless you're standing on the edge of a building. And what's so bad about a little stench on the side?

Why You'll Wish it Had:

Malodorants are actually pretty freaking awful. It isn't just a bad smell, it's a chemical weapon that induces nausea, gagging and vomiting. It's also possible that Malodorant's violate current chemical weapons bans with many believing that "Malodorant's do have a physiological effect and toxicity is not limited to lethality."

We're not sure what that means exactly, but you should probably stay away from anything that has a "physiological effect" and "toxicity", regardless of what it's "limited to."

In case those non-life-ending weapons didn't scare you enough, check out The 35 Most Insane Halloween Costumes from Around the World. Or find out what the military does with its time when not developing pants-soiling technology in The 10 Most Bizarre Military Experiments.

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