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.