Next-generation Crowd Control: “Calmative Agents” Will Put Entire Protests Under Sedation

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A few years ago the U.S. Army tested a very different type of ordnance—a “non-lethal personal suppression projectile” called the XM1063—that rains a chemical agent over people in a 2 acre area. The agent can be a sedative drug, a malodorous substance, or even something that makes everyone slip and fall. This may be a benign thing for the Army, but in the hands of the police state it is a potent tool of repression.

The idea of using “calmative agents” for crowd control is undoubtedly attractive to authorities. As people become more informed and connected, they will take to the streets to challenge the corruption of the state. Naturally, the state will develop ways to disrupt this, and they’ll do it using your money.

It is well known that the U.S. military has played an enormous role in the militarization of police, primarily by giving billions worth of equipment to police departments. There is little reason to doubt that crowd control weapons being developed by the Pentagon’s Joint Non-Lethal Weapons Directorate (JNLWD) will wind up in the hands of police.

Two weeks ago we reported on the Taser Shockwave that can take down entire crowds. Calmative agents could join that arsenal of crowd-control weaponry, but the indiscriminate drugging of entire crowds would garner plenty of controversy. Although the military use of calmative agents could run afoul of the 1997 Chemical Weapons Convention, it might actually be easier for law enforcement to use this on civilians.

It appears that the only reason calmative drugs are not already used is because police don’t have a good way of delivering them to the unruly citizens. Since a howitzer (which delivers the Army’s XM1063) might be a bit much for city streets, other means are being considered.

“Ultimately, a calmative chosen for less lethal law enforcement purposes should exhibit the following characteristics: an easy and versatile route of administration, fast onset of action, a short drug effect duration, a consistent dose response, reversible action by antidote or rapid metabolism, and no long-lasting or permanent toxicity or side effects. A few ways that a non-lethal calmative might be administered, depending on the law enforcement environment, would include a topical or transdermal skin application, an aerosol spray, an intramuscular dart, or a rubber bullet filled with an inhalable agent. However, the ability to target a specific wrongdoer or horde, while not affecting outlying innocent bystanders, through a discriminatory application, has yet to be mastered. Until the proper administration techniques for a controllable yet effective calmative drug meet the demands of public welfare, calmatives, as riot control agents, will continue to be shelved.” – National Clearinghouse for Science, Technology and the Law

In soliciting research and development for calmative agents, the JNLWD encouraged private entities to investigate a variety of chemicals and combinations, including anesthetics/analgesics, tranquilizers, hypnotics and neuromuscular blockers. They cited several law enforcement applications: “hostage and barricade situations; crowd control; close proximity encounters, such as, domestic disturbances, bar fights and stopped motorists; to halt fleeing felons; and prison riots.

Tomorrow’s cop could be able to put people into a stupor as easily as shocking them with a Taser gun. Could protests one day be met with a massive dose of sedative drugs delivered by unmanned aerial drones?

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About Justin Gardner

Justin Gardner is a peaceful free-thinker with a background in the biological sciences. He is interested in bringing rationality back into the national discourse, and independent journalism as a challenge to the status quo.