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How "Less" Is Less Than Lethal?

NCJ Number
Date Published
2 pages
This article describes various NIJ (National Institute of Justice)-funded studies of the stopping power of "less-than-lethal" (LTL) weapons that fire blunt-trauma projectiles, as well as the physical and psychological injuries they cause to various types of persons targeted.
One such NIJ-funded study has involved collecting data from agencies throughout the country regarding their use and the effectiveness of LTL blunt-impact projectiles. With data from more than 600 incidents, this study will produce a database of information that includes the type of incident, the kind of projectile used, whether it stopped a person's attack, and the type and extent of injuries caused by the projectile. Preliminary data have found that approximately 61 percent of the incidents involved "suicide by police" (when a suspect attempts to force police to kill him/her). In another study, a biomechanical surrogate developed by the automobile industry is being modified and validated for LTL blunt trauma. The study is focusing on the chest area to determine the trauma level caused by relatively high-velocity, low-mass blunt-impact projectiles. Another NIJ-funded study is examining the various empirical and theoretical models that have been used previously to predict the probability of injury. This study is building on similar work previously done by the military; it will examine the strengths and weaknesses of each model. Another component of NIJ's Blunt Trauma Program is the development of the ring airfoil projectile, a 2 1/2-inch, 1-ounce rubber ring that has a straight flight at approximately 200 feet per second. The ring has cavities that can be filled with pepper powder.

Date Published: January 1, 2000