Peacekeeping: Splat, You're Pacified


August 22,2008:  There is yet another military paintball weapon in play, for use as a "non-lethal weapon". This one (the ISNLS, or Individual Serviceman Non-lethal System) was recently adopted by the U.S. Army, and has about twice the range of commercial paintball guns. The army weapon is non-lethal (although it can put your eye out), and can knock down a man at up to 80 meters. The U.S. Army system is basically the same one (the XM303) developed by rifle maker FN in 2001.

Paintball, a sport employing guns that use compressed air to fire 17mm paint balls at other players in contests simulating firefights, have been around since the 1970s. Using "guns" that were first developed to enable foresters to mark trees, or cowboys to mark cattle, it has developed into a worldwide sport for some 20 million participants. The commercial paintball guns fire their solid gel balls at about 300 feet per second. Injuries from playing paintball are less than any other contact sport, and lower than most non-contact sports that require a lot of running or jumping.

The new American military paintball gun is for riot control, and has already been used successfully by some police departments. Some of the XM303s were obtained in 2005, and used for riot control in U.S. military prisons in Afghanistan. The paintballs here contain a special formula of dye that makes it easier to identify anyone hit.


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