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Rubber bullets are non-lethal projectiles that are often fired by riot police around the world to subdue violent mobs. These bullets are also used for other purposes, like target practice and animal control. Since the early 80s, they have become an integral part of riot police gear.
Some rubber bullets are made solely from rubber, whereas others are made from plastic, wax and wood and have rubber coatings. Although such bullets are not lethal, they do cause some bodily harm. These projectiles are known to cause fractures and even profuse bleeding if aimed at a less meaty part of the body. If they are accidentally fired at the head, they can even cause death.
These bullets have become the lifeblood of riot police across the globe--especially in big cities, where an enraged mob could potentially cause millions of dollars worth of damage. Riot police are often issued rubber bullet-specific guns, but some bullets can also be fired from normal single-barrel weapons.
Apart from rubber bullets, riot police use a host of other non-lethal weapons to control big mobs. Along with their ever-reliable batons and shields, they also use water cannons, tear gas, and sandbag shooters to quell riots and other unruly mob situations.
Riot police have to walk a fine line between effective crowd control and the use of excessive force which may lead to allegations of human rights violations. However, as we saw last week in London, the reluctance of police to engage rioters and deploy these painful but effective tools can lead to total chaos. We're pretty sure the UK police have learned a rather harsh lesson, and the next time there's similar trouble, we'll see the rubber bullets and water cannons out in a jiffy!
-Picture courtesy Reuters-
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