Guns are a hot topic in Ferguson, Missouri. Ferguson, a suburb of Saint Louis, has recently been in the news because of a shooting incident which occurred in August 2014 involving a man named Michael Brown. Michael Brown was unarmed, but shot and killed by local Ferguson officer, Darren Wilson; many argue that this was an unnecessary death. In response, police are now seeking a less-lethal alternative way to neutralize a subject. To avoid future incidents like the Michael Brown case, guns with alternative ballistics have recently tested by Ferguson police.
These alternative ballistics (manufactured by the California company, Alternative Ballistics) are a substitutes for bullets and are created to injure subjects without killing them. The device looks like an orange cap with a protruding ping-pong ball that covers the barrel of the gun. When the gun is fired, the force of the bullet thrusts the ball-like projectile toward the target. The ball has enough force to knock a person down, but it will not do the same amount of internal damage as a bullet. Even when fired at close range, this alternative ballistic is created to spare lives.
After the device was tested by police chief, Al Eickhoff, training on how to use the guns with the alternative ballistics was set up for Ferguson police to undergo this week. Eickhoff was actually the first one on the force to look into alternative shooting methods and he was the one who discovered Alternative Ballistics. Now, he plans to introduce them to all 55 of the officers on the Ferguson force. Presently, however, they will not be used on the streets.
A number of alternative to bullets already exist including rubber bullets, Tasers, bean-bag shotguns, and pepper-packed pellets. However, Alternative Ballistics designed their weapon to be used in those tricky moments like when an officer is in danger and has a split-second to decide whether or not to use a gun. “It gives another option,” claims Eickhoff who is looking to protect and save lives.
Of course, alternative ballistics have critics too. Because it takes a moment for a police officer to attach the addition to his gun, some argue that this may give subjects time to wound, or lethally injure, the officer. Others assert that it is not guaranteed that the alternative ballistic will not kill its target.
Ferguson’s actions of implementing alternative ballistics comes in direct response to the “Black lives matter” protest which was sparked by the shooting of Michael Brown and the deaths of other unarmed black suspects around the country. Many officers, of course, would like to never shoot anyone, but it a fact that many police-involved deaths happen. Ferguson, however, by implementing alternative ballistics is showing that they want this to change.
If these guns with alternative ballistics prove to be a success with police in Ferguson, Missouri, perhaps they will tested elsewhere and implemented for use. However, who knows if or when that will be. Ferguson mayor, James Knowles III, made the statement: “We think it’s worthwhile to explore, but we’re still in the exploratory phase.”
By Emilee Prado
Photo by Rudy Lara – License