The recent riots across the country , sparked by the death of George Floyd at the hands of a police officer, have brought about the use of a dangerous weapon to stop rioters. As protests continue to turn into violent riots, police officers are using various methods to stop rioters, such as tear gas or handcuffs. Now they are also using rubber bullets,despite evidence that shows the extreme dangers of said ammunition.
Rubber bullets are steel spheres coated in a layer of rubber. These bullets often weigh around 15.4 grams and are 1.7 centimeters in diameter. The use of these weapons has sparked outrage on social media. Several posts have shown the repercussions of the use of rubber bullets and studies exemplify the scientifically proven dangers of rubber bullets.
A study completed in 2017 by BLM showed that 3% of people hit by rubber bullets die due to their injuries. Fifteen percent of people receive permanent injuries. A police chief from New Jersey spoke out on the issue and said rubber bullets should only be used on extremely dangerous crowds. However, many people believe that these bullets have been used excessively and on innocent bystanders during the ongoing race riots.
Recently, a grandmother in California was hit between the eyes by a rubber bullet and hospitalized. She is currently in an intensive care unit. Actors have even been shot at during protests. Kendrick Sampson was shot 7 times at a Los Angeles protest. A free-lance photographer in Minneapolis was blinded during the protests after being shot in the face with what she thought was a rubber bullet. After her report, the Minneapolis police made a statement saying they only use foam bullets, which are less lethal.
Dr. Robert Gladder, an emergency physician in New York, spoke out about the use of rubber bullets. He said that when fired at close range they can penetrate the skin, break bones, fracture the skull, and explode eyeballs. He also said they can cause traumatic brain injuries and serious abdominal injuries.
Experts agree that although rubber bullets are less lethal than physical force and actual bullets, they are still harmful. Police chiefs across the country have stated that rubber bullets are being implemented more often than normal due to the protests. The problem lay in the fact that these bullets are causing injuries to many Americans, especially to those shot in the head.
A solution may lay in another method of crowd control. It has been concluded that other devices can also be used to subdue crowds. For example, pepper spray is an extremely effective device that causes no permanent injuries. Water cannon’s can cause injuries, but it is extremely unlikely. Disorientation devices can cause damage to hearing, but it is very rare. The police have many tools at their disposal, leaving many to question their choice of harmful rubber bullets over many less harmful - yet effective - alternatives.