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Lab Defense: Pain Ray

by noahmax on July 1, 2005

We all know that security at the country’s nuclear labs has been a little, um, uneven. Scientists at Sandia National Labs think they’ve found a way to plug up those porous defenses: a microwave-like pain that roasts intruders.
nonlethal-weaponry_nr.jpgFor years, the Air Force and the Pentagon’s Joint Non-Lethal Weapons Directorate have been working on the Active Denial System, or ADS. It’s a real-life ray gun which shoots 95 GHz millimeter waves. They penetrate a 64th of inch beneath the skin, where nerve receptors are concentrated. And when the waves hit, they produce an “intense heating sensation [which] stops only if the individual moves out of the beams path or the beam is turned off,” a Sandia press release explains. “The sensation caused by the system has been described by test subjects as feeling like touching a hot frying pan.“
It’s a pretty damn persuasive way to get people to clear out of the way. And unlike, say, an M-16 fired into a mob, the beam’s only lasting effects seem to be bad memories. No wonder folks are calling ADS “the Holy Grail of crowd control.“
Raytheon has built a Humvee-mounted model, which is currently being tested before a likely trip to Iraq. The Air Force is developing an airborne version of the pain ray.
Now, Sandia researchers are getting in on the act, too. But unlike the military-grade units — meant to zap masses of people far, far away — the smaller Sandia model would be used to dissuade nearby individuals from sneaking into classified facilities. The researchers ran performance tests on a mini-ray prototype in late May. More “human effectiveness” trials will continue over the next six months.
If those work out, Sandia says, a “second-generation small-size ADS system [is] expected to be fielded at several DOE [Department of Energy] nuclear facilities as early as 2008.”

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{ 47 comments… read them below or add one }

David July 1, 2005 at 9:58 am

It would be feasible to come up with a system that projects a 360 degree field of microwave radiation that you could mount on a Humvee. This would be like a anti-human pain field in a radius defined by the level of amplification.

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Kyle July 1, 2005 at 10:15 am

As cool as the geek in me thinks this idea is, I can’t help but feel that it should be limited to the battlefield. If we move towards miniaturization of this technology for homeland deployment, it’s only a matter of time before abuse becomes a real issue. Tazers incapacitate; pain rays leave you semi-conscious enough to gouge your own eyes out or step into oncoming traffic to escape the searing sensation.
I’m all about using this as a non-lethal combat weapon. But the day that an officer pulls an ADS weapon on some rough-looking teenager at a traffic stop will be a defining moment in the line between safe alternatives to bullets and handheld torture devices.

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Byron Skinner July 1, 2005 at 2:04 pm

I may be out of the loop on this but my own experience in war (I was an Sp.4 11B in Vietnam, 1966 and came home an amputee) is that it is best to kill the enemy. When you injure or wound someone it just makes them pi**ed off and want to lay a big can of whip a** payback on the juy that did it.
When you kill the bad guys all you have to worry about is their friends and family who after reconsidering the situation more often as not lose interest it trying to get some measure of revenge if they fell they could meet the same fate as the object of there anger.
But who am I to argue with the “Scientists”, “Defense Intellectuals” etc.( most who never laced up a pair of combat boots) who say that we are no longer suspose to kill the enemy but just lay an owie on him/her and then arrest them (like a kid just playing hookie for school) so when it,s over they can apply to “Uncle Sugar” for compsatation for their the injuries inflicted on them by the big bad GI’s and get a big stack of greenbacks.
While at home the War Veteran has to deal with the Dept. of Veterans Affairs who’s mission in life is to tell him/her that they are nothing but a bunch of freeloaders looking for welfare. The motto of the V.A. is “Quite Bit**ing, suck it up and get a job, your country doesn’t owe you anything.”
Happy 4th. of July, Patriots.
ALLONS,
Byron Skinner
“Stewart’s Platoon”

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liberty July 1, 2005 at 4:23 pm

This needs to be deployed along our borders ASAP. It is the perfect humane disincentive to uninvited guests :)

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John Williams July 1, 2005 at 4:45 pm

I agree with Skinner that deadly force is safer than cruel but nonlethal force (for the weapon user).
Also, cruel weapons are in violation of numerous laws. In particular, weapons holding a stream of photons on a living human probably violate the Geneva Protocol of 1925, which forbids the use of gas or liquid weapons. Light held on a target gasifies; if it has the effect of a weapon, it probably will be illegal.
The Geneva Protocol became U. S. law in 1975, when the Senate finally ratified it, about fifty years after the President had signed it.
For more on the legality of electromagnetic weaponry, what probably is legal and probably is not, see http://www.eet.com/story/OEG20010625S0025/

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Byron Skinner July 2, 2005 at 12:25 am

John makes a good point the Geneva Protocol, is it still valid?
I believe that last convenion on the rules was held in the 1950′s, since then a lot has change. The operative question here is should the U.S. call for another convention on the rules of walfare?
The issue that comes to mind is the use of “CS”. Police forces around the world including in the United States uses this routinely to disperse crowds and to clear buildings. We used it in Vietnam for clearing and sealing tunnels, chasing people out of the bush insteading of reconning by fire but American Soldiers and Marines today don’t use this non-lethal weapon because it is a chemical weapon.
Nearly all of the up stream technology comming out of DARPA and other developmential agencies are non traditional in nature and non lethal. Accoustic, laser, partical beams and devices designed to disorientate the enemy. None of this stuff was ever considered in 1925 or even the 1950′s. I mean is loud Rock Music against the Geneva Protocol?
But yet one of the most inhumanine of weapons the bayonet is still issued to most Army’s.
It appears to me that we are long over due for a look at the rules. Even baseball changes the rules from time to time.
ALLONS,
Byron Skinner
“Stewart’s Platoon”

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Marshall July 2, 2005 at 7:43 pm

Sounds like another good use for aluminium foil (as a counter measure). Now, where is my tinfoil hat…

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BenHM July 2, 2005 at 9:53 pm

Has anyone tried countermeasures for this? I’m thinking here of foils. How much and where? EG: Will our troops get aluminamized-mylar layers in their armor now? And if it works for them, can I hide behind my space blanket?
Stopping lethal force is high tech. Stopping (or ameliorating) non-lethal force is low tech. Witness rioters throwing the tear gas grenades BACK.

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Marshall July 2, 2005 at 11:43 pm

Dear BenHM
According to the report this is just 95 Ghz radio – i.e., about 3 mm wavelength. Any really tiny mesh (sub mm) – or good old heavy aluminum foil – will reflect it. Flat pieces of metal could be used to reflect it back on the source (the equivalent of throwing tear gas cannisters back), and umbrellas could be lined with foil as shields.
I had forgotten about the space blankets, but they might stop it too.
Of course, in combination with, say, water cannon, it might still be pretty effective in practice.

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TexasFred July 3, 2005 at 4:36 pm

If it’ll make the bad guys lay down and behave, use it… Make an *industrial* strength model for the larger sized areas and massive group control… On places like, oh, I don’t know, North Korea and Syria maybe…

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TexasFred July 3, 2005 at 5:21 pm

I don’t mean to p*ss you guys off, well, maybe I do, but have you folks noticed?? Our enemies have NO rules… None… And we continue to fight them in a conventional manner… And ALL it gets us is DEAD…
So far, the US mainland has been lucky, because our enemies would have NO compunctions about using this weapon on the entire population of ANY large American city if given the opportunity… And a *mushroom* cloud would be right up their alley IF they could lay hands on a nuclear weapon of some sort… Make no mistake about it… We are engaged in a battle against an enemy that has no respect for us and no fear of us, and they never will because we are too afraid to use the weapons at our disposal… And until they truly FEAR us, we are fighting a losing battle, Christianity against Islam, The Crusades of old… Nothing is too vile or cruel to use when you are trying to defeat an enemy that will cut your head OFF on live TV and broadcast it to the world… PCness is not an option guys…

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Scott July 4, 2005 at 10:18 am

I know this may sound stupid but I think a ray causing the subject to laugh untill the ray stops should replace this. It could In theory kill people by laughing them to death but Its better than forcing them to suicide If they realise whats hepping and there running out of oxygen there bound to leave and not come back again. Beleive me humor Is a mental kind of torture but not nearly enouggh to make them Insane like a pain ray.

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George Orwell July 4, 2005 at 11:13 am

“You want to know what the future looks like? Imagine a bootheel grinding a face into pavement.”
or something like that.
You scientists keep on designing wonderful devices like this. You are true benefits to humanity. I hope it gets used on you or yours one day. -
georgie

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TexasFred July 4, 2005 at 12:18 pm

TheKingOfSwing
Sorry, I wasn’t aware that Military.com was read by sniveling lefties that would give America away… Guess I was wrong…

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Gerry Mack July 4, 2005 at 1:37 pm

We live in the days of a ‘hi-tech’ lifestyle in almost everything we do but we have limits and must realize the same ‘hi-tech’ toys we use against others can also be used against us.
If we choose to live by the sword…we will likely die that way
Gerry
http://www.gerrymack.com

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TexasFred July 4, 2005 at 2:27 pm

TheKingOfSwing
“Does anyone think this won’t be used against, say, striking workers or perhaps peaceful demonstrators? Look at how tazers and pepper spray are used by cops on non-violent, non-belligerent citizens.”
We CAN hope… :)
I am a member of that Vast Right Wing Conspiracy people like you love to blame everything on, now, go put your tin foil hat back on before we turn on the brain rays…

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Scalper July 4, 2005 at 2:46 pm

Weapons that work will get deployed to units (and by nations/groups) that can afford them. What’s important is that enough security controls (such as keys or locks) be built-in to the hardware along with procedures and protocols that will prevent unauthorized use as well as create an audit trail for every use.
For example, being an electronic device, why can’t a video camera recorder be included along with passwords and actual keys into the hardware of the pain-ray projector? Anybody who tries to use it indiscrimately and without authorization will then get it turned on him.
Also, why are some people so focused on just this one weapon when there are others in the arsenal? If a non-lethal weapon doesn’t stop the bad guys, there are still M16s available, right? And if the unruly crowd use aluminum foil to stop the microwaves, how will they stop rubber bullets, tear gas, glue guns, water cannons, fire extinguishers, or even truncheons? The important thing is to have a choice of weapons per given situation, not be stuck with massive firepower when all that’s needed is a bit of incapacitating love-taps.

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God July 4, 2005 at 5:23 pm

Texas Fred
“”Does anyone think this won’t be used against … peaceful demonstrators? “”
“We CAN hope…”
And the difference between Texas Fred and a torturer like Saddam Hussein is?

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TexasFred July 4, 2005 at 7:36 pm

Dear GOD: I never knew you were mentally challenged… I was quoting your leftist buddy, and you had to edit THAT quote just to serve YOUR purpose?? Sad dude…Sad..
{TheKingOfSwing:
“Does anyone think this won’t be used against, say, striking workers or perhaps peaceful demonstrators? Look at how tazers and pepper spray are used by cops on non-violent, non-belligerent citizens.”}

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Wembley July 5, 2005 at 2:45 am

The suggested countermeasures would only be effective if they provided 100% body coverage – the beam covers the entire body. Sparking may also be an issue.
Nonlethals create many complex and subtle issues. I believe that attempts to deploy this before the safety questions have been resolved and before there is a full understanding of the implications would be a mistake.
And yes, the hand-held version is already on the way; both the USMC and the NIJ are developing their own versions in conjunction with Raytheon. Foreign versions are only a matter of time.
And the ADS is mild compared to PEP. You have been warned….

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Myst July 5, 2005 at 5:56 am

I think that this is already in use overseas. It is probably being tested on our enemies. It is troubling and raises a lot of concerns. I don’t see why our weapons labs can’t use regular means to stop tresspassers, as they have been doing.
The assertion that this type of ray reaches precisely a certain layer of the body and has such and exact and controllable effect is suspect.
I believe that another low frequency electromagnetic weapon was testing on Americans in urban areas. It’s probably similar, if not identifcal to HARP used under water.
The Earth, its animals and its people are meant for other uses. These boys with their toys are out of control.

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John Penta July 5, 2005 at 8:21 am

For everybody’s sake, I really hope the lawyers take a closer-than-usual look at this before it gets deployed. Pro or anti, I don’t think anybody wants to think about the legal morass that’s going to be created by this thing.

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adam July 5, 2005 at 11:51 am

wouldnt this be a good fencing material to keep us sheep contained……

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GUY IN USA July 5, 2005 at 12:36 pm

How about putting a network of these things on the border with Mexico? I bet illegal immigration would slow a bit..

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cC July 5, 2005 at 9:59 pm

My guess is that tolerance for this will vary widely. Same as pepper spray. I’m sure we’ll have a pill to pop that temporarily knocks out the viceral reaction to this device. No deterrent is 100% effective and I’d hate to meet the rare S O B in the crowd who can disassociate in response to pain. No doubt, in the same crowd there will be those who collapse in shock and die.
America has the most brutal arsenal on earth, we just can’t deploy it as well as we need to. Pain rather than destructive power, it is interesting.

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Floater July 6, 2005 at 12:39 am

It IS interesting, yes…It is time we take off the ‘kid gloves’ and deal with the threats that are very real around us. Americans in general have not experienced the death and mayhem that abounds in war. Barring the 11 Sep. disaster we, as a nation, have not been attacked in a meaningful way since Pearl Harbor. People look at the ‘insurgents’ in Iraq and wonder how someone can care enough about something to be willing to die for it, yet they do not realize that the very same feeling once pervaded their (okay, maybe not THEIR) fore-fathers to the point of birthing a new nation. America is based on doing the right thing. This doesn’t happen perfectly, nothing ever does, but at least we, as a nation, TRY. And the approach of using non-lethal weaponry is most definitely the first step in being a more ‘humane’ society. I ask: would you rather our troops just use amplified microwaves and incinerate the targets?
-Floater

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Disturbed July 6, 2005 at 1:19 am

“…described by test subjects as feeling like touching a hot frying pan,” and “no lasting effects.”
Yep. Once this device is made smaller, it will make a perfect torture device. By then, probably either a Bush or a Clinton will have legalized government torture in another “Patriot Act.”
Its a sad planet God has dropped us off on.

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midwest July 6, 2005 at 3:40 am

What are they thinking making a weapon like this. I am all for freedom and being from a military family have a complete understanding about being patriotic. I am just not sure if this is to help keep our freedom or take it away.
I feel this weapon will be abused and it is a very bad idea.

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Oz July 6, 2005 at 3:51 am

TheKingOfSwing
“Does anyone think this won’t be used against, say, striking workers or perhaps peaceful demonstrators? Look at how tazers and pepper spray are used by cops on non-violent, non-belligerent citizens.”
We CAN hope… :)
I am a member of that Vast Right Wing Conspiracy people like you love to blame everything on, now, go put your tin foil hat back on before we turn on the brain rays…
Posted by: TexasFred at July 4, 2005 02:27 PM
I’m with you, fred. At least it won’t be the .30 Browning mg’s that state police (Henry Ford) used on the militant strikers at the Detroit plant.
The point is, it WILL disperse a crowd. And it will do so without killing anybody. Somebody mentioned water cannon, well, water absorbs microwaves very well, so that would offset or possibly even negate the effect. The firehose will be needed, though, after the rioters SH** their pants.

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Bob July 6, 2005 at 4:04 am

“For everybody’s sake, I really hope the lawyers take a closer-than-usual look at this before it gets deployed. Pro or anti, I don’t think anybody wants to think about the legal morass that’s going to be created by this thing.”
-Posted by: John Penta at July 5, 2005 08:21 AM
I hope this thing is tested on lawyers!

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Stanislav Petrov July 6, 2005 at 1:02 pm

“… go put your tin foil hat back on before we turn on the brain rays…”
History has shown that whatever new weapon the U.S. develops always falls into enemy hands. Let’s hope we aren’t all wearing tinfoil hats soon to defend against the chinese or israeli’s.

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Carl July 6, 2005 at 5:54 pm

Has everyone lost their minds so much that even when shown a non-lethal weapon to use in Iraq, or in general, people still recoil in horror?? As an active duty military member, I ask all of you out there who are complaining AGAIN: what would you like us to do? Sing to them? Recite poetry and hope that they have a sudden change of heart about loathing us? Time to wake up people. Televised decapitation, suicide bombers, and 9/11 aside (because everyone seems to not notice all of that. They do notice a U.S. Marine shooting an insurgent and want to hang him because of it, though), this is still a war. In war, people die. That’s part of war. You people cry because insurgents are killed. The government devlops a non-lethal weapon, and you still cry. What do you want us to do? And before anyone e-mails me with “We should leave Iraq”.. I agree, but unfortunately that isn’t an option, and if it was, it would only cause everything to fall into more chaos. So all of you little babies that cry about insurgents and rioters possibly being heated up temporarily from this weapon while not being phased by those same people who strap bombs to their chests and wipe out (as in KILL) entire platoons of American soldiers, I challenge you to come up with an acceptable alternative. E-mail me at FXDrummer@aol.com with some ideas if you’d like to discuss it more.

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John Williams July 8, 2005 at 12:27 pm

Two comments: The Geneva Protocol of 1925 is not part of the Geneva Conventions — the only thing in common is the Swiss city of Geneva.
The Geneva Protocol can be considered part of the Laws of War and never has been modified or amended, except to include biological weapons. It was not ratified until after VietNam, so it was not binding on the U. S. in VietNam, where we admittedly used gas warfare (CS and a liquid, Agent Orange), which now are illegal for use by military personnel.
Second comment: Some posters have complained that “we” have to “follow the rules” (= obey laws), while “they” don’t. Well, if “they” had the intelligence to have rules to obey, they would be as advanced technologically as we are, and they surely would give us more trouble than now.
Look at this in perspective: We kill about TWENTY TIMES as many each year in highway and home accidents as died in the isolated event of 9-11. ONE HUNDRED or more times as many as just were killed in London.
We lost about 100 times as many in World War II, a war in which all sides obeyed the rules and did not use gas. We were up against an enemy which, fearsomely, obeyed the rules.
Be happy that we can obey the rules, and can trust others to stop at red lights.
There is no excuse for terrorism, but the answer is not a mindless abandon of the rule of law.
We have something for them to attack because we obey the rules. Let’s keep it that way, and put up with a little harassment. And the love of the press to report tears more than facts.

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Orville Redenbocker July 10, 2005 at 5:12 pm

One obvious countermeasure would be popcorn kernel armor.

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Sane Objector July 24, 2005 at 9:43 pm

The simple fact is that using a weapon like this against a crowd of people in iraq, is only going to increase support for the resistance. Period. It will make the US look like a group of inhuman monsters.
The only way to win in Iraq is through psychology. We lost the first few rounds of the war by starting it with bold faced lies. We lost the second round by not building infrastructure. We will continue to loose rounds if we deploy weapons like this. What a horrible clusterf*ck. Thank you for continuing to back incompetent leaders and counterproductive measures.

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Idgie Robertson August 17, 2005 at 1:41 am

What the hell is this: “95 GHz millimeter”? Uh, WTF? Over!
I’d sure like to see a 95 gigaherts millimeter. I am just somebody stumbling through your spiffy site, and am wondering if you guys do your own technical editing, or do you farm it out to trained lower primates like NCOs?

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stephen russell August 18, 2005 at 9:09 pm

Lets place this on the US Mex border for some
Fried Tacos & Burritoes OK.
Needed, now.
Real Fun guys.
Or use at the 2008 DNC event.
Remember 1968 again!!!!!!

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Anonymous January 9, 2006 at 7:06 pm

On the one hand, it’s good to have nonlethal weapons – like spraying a cat in the face with water when they’re bad.
On the other hand, I’d hate to see this get overused. Weaponry has become so unpersonal lately that people kill and hurt without thinking about it.

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Jason Johnson January 21, 2006 at 5:09 pm

I guess another weapon that the American Government can use on their own people to control opposition.
The future’s so bright I have to wear shades!

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Bobby Baxter, Veteran & Marijuana Felon May 21, 2006 at 1:49 am

Another nightmare for the free world to fear. Who owns and controls this? Our good friends, the faces in the shadows. I undertand that some of the Corporatists that are involved in this type of horror are now implanting their ‘employees’ with microchips. We’re next. What about those KBR Root/Halliburton “detention centers”? Who is slated to reside in there? Where will this end? The people who work on these kinds of things are enemies of the Constitution and the people. This is not good.

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Bobby Baxter, Veteran & Marijuana Felon May 21, 2006 at 1:49 am

Another nightmare for the free world to fear. Who owns and controls this? Our good friends, the faces in the shadows. I undertand that some of the Corporatists that are involved in this type of horror are now implanting their ‘employees’ with microchips. We’re next. What about those KBR Root/Halliburton “detention centers”? Who is slated to reside in there? Where will this end? The people who work on these kinds of things are enemies of the Constitution and the people. This is not good.

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Dr. Plausible Deniability January 23, 2007 at 10:39 pm

One noisy neighbor next door with a stereo that they won’t turn down——-Not good.
1—1 cheap 40.00 dollar wallmart or meijer Microwave oven.
2 Aquire 2years at Ivy Tech learning electronics.
3 One night of fun in your basement making the gun from hell.
4 aim at sound and switch on.
The next day you enjoy the sound of silence.
If they get a new stereo,
repeat step 4

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Iain October 6, 2007 at 8:45 am

Sounds like a good idea until the first time its used on us citizens by either the military, police or a private security force. And after a while, either when the go-ahead is given to sell this overseas (al-la shock batons, etc.) or the device is inevitably copied by some other country we can see again just how ingenious we can be at making life seriously unpleasant for ourselves.

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Lee October 16, 2007 at 10:31 am

Why can’t they make a gun that gets people off? nope its always pain first or let’s kill things first and when we can’t kill anything anymore we will find a civilized way to use this.
For all the supports of this gun.. well have fun when it’s used on you.

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Bryan October 20, 2007 at 2:10 pm

I have been shot by this. I got to see it at a trade show FPED VI. Leaves no marks. No after effects, just makes you feel a burning pain fast and all you want to do is get out of the way. This could stop a riot quick. Real quick, before anyone gets hurt. It is not inhuman. Damn tear gas and pepper spray both have after effects. This is sythetic pain to your nervous system.
I know this because I have tryed it first hand. Hell I have a video of me doing it.

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IC January 31, 2008 at 10:26 pm

It’s not just the raygun.
What many of us fear is that the US is near the tipping point of facism.
What side of the raygun will you be on?

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JC April 5, 2008 at 9:28 am

Frightening to say the least. What we are witnessing here is a new tool for domestic crowd control. Keep your powder dry.

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