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back to article US Justice Dept builds microwave heat-ray 'rifle'

Reports are emerging that the US Justice Department is working on a hand-held version of existing microwave cannons intended for riot or crowd control. The portable raygun could also have applications as a scanner or detector system, apart from being a weapon; and a working prototype has already been built. Raytheon, the …

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Millimeter wave

Q: Anyone any idea what happens when you're wearing (say) a ring, or a piercing when that thing's pointed at you?

As for millimeter wave security, I have no problems with it.

I do have significant problems with the x-ray back-scatter systems though; insufficient studies done on the safety IMO. My main concern is skin cancer.

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Coat

"All right - all right - I'll shoot her in a minute"

How do you take pictures with this thing again?

Time for tin-foil underwear then I guess? though a chaff-spray might be more interesting, and might make for pretty sparkles in the air :-)

The world of THX1138 et al seems to be getting nearer every time I refresh the Reg home page! very depressing.

I wonder how much restraint the law-enforcers will have with access to all of this non-lethal weaponry.

To a certain extent I hope that the USA keeps this to themselves, and doesn't allow exports, then the rest of us can see what happens.

Right - I'm off for some fresh air.

ttfn

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Boffin

Mesh pants

Although everyone already knows I (proudly) wear a tin foil hat... few realise I also sport a pair of wire mesh microwave proof underpants.

Hah.

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Crowd Control

Am I the only one concerned that the bulk of technology and military developments reported by the media seem to be directed at population cataloguing and crowd control?

One cannot help but wonder who these 'crowds' are that the military are required to 'control'.

Don't like the way this is heading.

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Tut tut Lewis

Four articles and counting. I think you have been rumbled as a Death-tech Weekly subscriber.

Keep 'em coming :)

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Alien

That's Nothing...

Captain Kirk and the Enterprise crew had these decades ago.

Set to stun !

Beem me up someone!

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@ Crowd Control

They will be deployed to subdue anyone who isn't peacefully protesting, peacefully being standing in a designated area, making no noise and not arming yourself with a dangerous banner or sign on a stick.

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Locust control?

Could this technology have a useful purpose - control of locust plagues? Back-of-envelope sums suggest that total power levels of tens of MW or so might be needed, because swarms can be rather big. But it might just work and would do a good deal more for peace than aiming them at people.

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Mirrors

Now all self-respecting rioters will carry mirrors (polished metal ones) and mirror back all microwave back at the attackers. That will be cool to watch...

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Happy

so let me get this right

they guy does this: "My lower thoracic area got very hot" and i'm sitting here thinking:

roasted nuts anyone?

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Why so agressive

Surely having a microwave to hand at all times would have huge implications for snack manufacturers?

Microwave burger sales would sky rocket as the hungry plod can now enjoy a hot snack any time of the day :D

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Alien

Ooooo-laaaaah !!!

Old tech - the Marsians were using these in Victorian times.

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Heat Ray

Presumably Raytheon's AFV division is already at work on the companion tripodal Fighting Machine?

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Anonymous Coward

Cops ...

... like HOT coffee with their donuts, so it's sure to be a it.

Seriously, though, it's going to be abused. And I'm worried about the emphasis on "crowd control" - these are citizens, damn it, and they are the only source of legitimate power in a democracy ..... oh, I forgot, we haven't had one of those for quite a while now.

When capsicum spray was introduced, the police swore it was only to use against armed offenders (knife, bat, etc.) when, otherwise, they would have to resort to a gun - at other times, they promised to use traditional grab 'em and cuff 'em techniques. But the great majority of capsicum spray incidents have been against unarmed individuals, a few even when already handcuffed. Now they've just received tasers over here and the same "guarantees" were given - but the first publicised use has been against unarmed folk. I can guarantee that "heat guns" WILL be abused if introduced.

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ian
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Set phasers to broil

I recall reading about grannies being tasered dozens of times. Will this latest "advance" be used to bake comatose plod targets? Perpfrits, anyone?

"Turn 'im over and we'll do the other side."

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Meanwhile, in the USA

Anyone who recalls the abusive behaviour of riot police which was associated with the Republican Party convention, a month ago, will need no further reason to think these weapons a Bad Thing.

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Re: Cops ...

And the whole riot-inducing Rodney King incident occurred without the use of any "less-than-lethal" alternative weapons--just truncheons and fists. The point is that you can abuse *anything*--even your hands and feet (and cops sometimes have to wonder if their perp has lethal hands and feet). Give cops a break. Most of them are honest law-enforcing individuals with a tough job to do. They have to do with the likes of people whose first response on seeing a cop is to flip him off or worse, drunks and druggies who show amazing strength and no sense of what's going on (PCP junkies have been known to break even *hinged* cuffs), and people who just charge at you (even without an obvious weapon) and leave you with just a split second to act. From my perspective, giving cops the ability to subdue miscreants from a distance without having to kill them is a mostly-good thing. Whether it's from the blunt force of bean bags, the sting of pepper spray, the debilitating shock of a tazer, or the brief but painful heat from a mm beam, it sometimes beats having to get up close and face a coked-up right fist or a hidden knife (or needle).

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@ Dave Bell

That was SO awesome. Thats my home town. Thank you RATM. Those cops were so I'll prepared. They were lucky it was St. Paul though, if it were in Chicago, somebody would be dead. Cops need these weapons, because if they don't have these weapons, they use guns instead, and I will take a MM ray over a 9MM bullet, any day of the week.

- Anyone else suddenly get hungry for M&Ms?

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Joke

Is it just me?

Why is it everytime I read yet another article about the DOJ's latest and greatest in weapons tech, I keep wondering if they're getting their ideas from Dr. Grordbort?

http://www.wetanz.com/holics/index.php?catid=4

"Presenting the most audacious gun yet in our line of advanced wave oscillators, Lord Cockswain's weapon of choice - The Unnatural Selector."

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Coat

Ouch

In addition to my tinfoil hat and chainmail, I shall be wearing Nomex overalls, underwear connected to Einstein refrigeration and...

Mine's the Mylar trenchcoat. Five layers of metallized boPET film should do the job.

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Pr0n magazines might sue, though...

...since this (perv mode) may mean a significant drop in the mags that the military orders. :P

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Darwinian Crowd Control?

Can't microwave radiation sterilise people? Is the unwritten agenda a long-term crowd control policy, as in, "you riot today, you won't have any children to riot in the future"?

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@charles

Nobody has a problem with police using tasers, pepper spray etc to defend themselves in an attack, or if seriously threatened. it's when they are used against someone who doesn't show any threatening behaviour at all, they just don't do what they are told to do, ask awkward questions etc. Incapacitating a person and restraining a person are very different things!

UK police don't seem as bad yet, but from what i have seen of US police they see themselves as military, worth denoted very much by rank, and any 'civilian' is on the bottom rung, outranked by the police. They treat people like dirt and if those people don't smile and thank them for it they get tasered. Somebody refusing an order from the police does not deserve to be shot, stunned, or beaten into submission if that order is something simple that anyone else would simple ask.

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Cant see it working very well

I honestly cant see this working very well on anything except a peaceful protest march.

Lets face it, if someone's so angry that capsicum spray is unlikely to subdue them, shooting them with something that makes them hot is hardly going to do the trick. If you know where the source of the heat is coming from your going to run very fucking fast to get to the heat source! Then whats the cop going to do? Drop the heat gun, and grab his regular gun and the moment he drops the heat gun, the perp is no longer in any pain but is really pissed off and closing the distance at a very high speed! Its 50:50 who wins from there... But either way someone's going to die!

The only time something like this would work as i mentioned is for a protest march and in that case whats wrong with using the good old fashion water cannon? Its a hell of a lot safer and more effective!

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@TJ

"Cops need these weapons, because if they don't have these weapons, they use guns instead, and I will take a MM ray over a 9MM bullet, any day of the week."

Hmm I always thought that the idea was that US citizens, in sufficient numbers could violently or otherwise overthrow the forces of the state if need be. If that possibility is removed, what is the point of America at all?

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@Charles

You've been watching far too many movies. Real policing is rarely like that. PCP-fuelled charging druggies? That was urban myth in the '80's. And if you gou get one genuine case, suddenly everyone not in a business suit is a drugged-up psychopath.

The point is that when you issue non-lethal "weapons", particularly that don't leave marks (or leave marks explainable by other means), you open the door to excessive use and abuse, especially abuse/use in situations when a disabling weapon is not warranted. The targets of this abuse almost never (99.9% of the time) get a chance to prove that the use was unwarranted.

And using the Rodney King incident as justification is hardly comforting.

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Pirate

Toys for a fascist dictator

What use are they in the US?

I thought the US is this shining example of freedom and democracy for the rest of the world to imitate?!

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@Anonymous Coward

Actually, I watch reality TV more than movies, and seeing enough *actual* police videos of shootouts, PCP junkies, and crazies who can't get the clue after *five* tazer shocks let you know the police have their hands full. Yes, there are incidents of police abuse, but it's just like with gun control. If they don't have these to abuse, they'll just go for something else (and you can't take away a cop's fists--Rodney King again). You want to control police abuse? Get a better hold of the *cops*, not their weapons. After all, it ain't the guns that kill people.

And lglethal: the idea is to trigger biological reflexes that kick in whether the person wants to or not. They each trigger different areas, not all of which may be dampenable by drugs unless you can show us otherwise. About the only way you can resist all forms of less-than-lethal is to be incapable of feeling pain--which has its own problems.

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Don't tell Ms. Bee

"heat-&-pain energy weapon, or passive through-clothes nudie perv scanner."

She'd love that.

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Fine by me...

...but only so long as they don't start giving these gizmos protected status under the law.

EG:

"No person may posses any article or garment intended to reduce or circumvent the effects of microwave based riot control devices."

and/or

"No person may posses any weapon which generates painful or destructive levels of heat at distance by use of microwave radiation."

Fair is fair after all.

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@Charles

So, you get most of your knowledge of policing situations from the those outstanding purveyors of quality, truth-based programming Fox? Well, you must be totally correct in your analysis, we apologise for doubting your credentials.

On the other hand, I would be very wary of taking any of these programs at face value. I'm not saying that that the events depicted don't happen, but you have to wonder how frequently the situations depicted crop up.

After all, the programes are normally called something like 'World's worst ...', 'wAmerica's most exciting...' etc. and if you look at the time codes in those videos that have them, you'll notice that many of these events took place many years ago, the implication being that fox (or whoever) have had to trawl decades worth of footage to find something that will titillate the jaded viewer.

and finally: guns don't kill people, rappers do! (with thanks to Goldy Lookin Chain)

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@ Charles

I object to the implication that Reality TV shows display an unbiased, realistic view of the world. Considering that I'm English, that would mean I'm a homosexual parking enforcement officer working on the EasyJet check in gate at a major London airport, who dons pink, fluffy rubber gloves to clean other peoples skank-pits of houses for them, whilst referring to all Asian people as "Poppadom" whilst my mother shouts ill-informed racist taunts.

Since I'm not, I tend to view this type of show as being about as realistic as an episode of Eastenders. (Something which is not very realistic at all, for you merkins)

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