The next time riot police open fire during your Constitutionally-protected demonstration, it might not be with tear gas canisters. It could be with shotgun-launched stun and pepper rounds. Enjoy your concussion and face full of capsaicin, citizen, and be glad they're not murder bullets.
The ShockRound and PepperRound are new non-lethal rounds from SmartRounds Technology, LLC of Brighton, Colorado. Each round is equipped with a pair of solid-state sensors which activate the shot when it leaves the barrel and then activates the payload just before it strikes the target 100 yards away.
The ShockRound is basically a miniature concussion grenade, employing a proprietary chemical reaction to generate a hyperbaric nitrogen gas shock wave that stuns and disorients anyone caught in its blast radius. The PepperRound operates much the same way, except instead of a concussive blast, the target is enveloped in a capsaicin cloud, which sounds about as fun as being casually doused in Mace.
Unlike standard lethal projectiles, or even "less than lethal" beanbag rounds, these rounds are marketed as being entirely "non-lethal" since the projectiles themselves don't actually come in contact with the target. That sounds great and all—but what happens if the round doesn't activate? Are you just shooting 12-gauge slugs? Prototypes exist, but the production run is currently being funded on IndieGogo, so we may never find out for real. And whatever happens, here's to hoping none of us find out in person. [SmartRounds via Defence Talk]