In science fiction, people can set their laser guns to “Stun.” With a flick of a switch, Captain Kirk can opt to fire nonlethal rounds. Real-life police have no such option. While beanbag guns exist, it’s hardly practical for cops to carry both of them around, and they cannot be expected to know which one they’ll need at any given moment. As a result, when being approached by a threat who will not comply, their only option is to fire a lethal bullet at the target. An unnamed, retired sheriff found this problem vexing, and “did not like the fact that people were being shot when the officers do have time (to consider options) but they had no other option than lethal force, ” Christian Ellis told CNN. Ellis is the CEO of a company called Alternative Ballistics, and they have spent nearly a decade bringing that sheriff’s subsequent invention to market. What the sheriff came up with is a small product, called “The Alternative, ” that can be quickly snapped onto the end of a pistol. When he then pulls the trigger, the bullet slams into a larger projectile on the end of the barrel, with plenty ’nuff force to carry both of them to the target. But the larger secondary projectile slows the speed and spreads the force over a greater area—in other words, it does not penetrate. “It’s gonna feel like you had a professional baseball player hit you in the chest with a hammer, so it is going to hurt, ” Ellis explains. But the thinking is that you will survive, bullethole-free. Here’s how it works: Obviously testing will be needed, as there are many hurdles to clear: Realistically speaking, can an officer break this out in time? Is there room for yet another item to hang from an officer’s belt? How will the training be handled? So while we don’t say this is the magic bullet, if you’ll pardon the pun, to solve unnecessary shooting deaths, we do appreciate the fact that at least someone, somewhere is trying to apply design to the problem. Because we’re damn sure not able to work it out between us as humans.
Ex-Sheriff Invents a Bullet-Dampening Device