Murphy's Law: Ammo Does Not Age Well


July 19, 2007: One of the most popular "non-lethal" weapons has been rubber bullets. But recently, UN police in Kosovo were found to have fired rubber bullets that had hardened over time. Exceeded their shelf life, so to speak. Two Kosovo teenagers were killed by these expired rubber bullets. That caused more civil disorder.

Rubber bullets were developed about three decades ago, and are typically fired from shotguns. They are, as the name implies, made of rubber (around a plastic core), about six inches (15 cm) long, and hurt like hell when they hit you. Unless fired at close range, against someone's head, they are painful, but not lethal. Another risk is that the rubber hardens over time. Most rubber bullets are marked with an expire date, which is usually three years after they are manufactured. The Rumanian UN police were using rubber bullets they had brought with them, but that were manufactured in 1991. For the moment, the UN is banning the use of rubber bullets, and other "non-lethal" rounds, by UN peacekeepers worldwide. At least until expire dates lives can be checked.




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