Police Use of Rubber Bullets Can Still Be Deadly, Study Warns

Police Use of Rubber Bullets Can Still Be Deadly, Study Warns

They may be touted as relatively harmless, but rubber and plastic bullets can cause serious injury and death, and should not be used when riots occur, researchers say.

Mental Health Does Not Come With A Manual, It Comes With Friends & Family Support That Never Gives Up!
Join now

These types of bullets -- widely used by police, military and security forces to disperse crowds -- are meant to incapacitate people by causing pain or injury.

But a team from the University of California, Berkeley, said the speed at which many rubber or plastic bullets leave the weapon is the same as live ammunition.

In fact, the new study suggests "that these weapons have the potential to cause severe injuries and death," said researchers led by Dr. Rohini Haar, of UC Berkeley's School of Public Health.

They looked at data from 26 published studies examining outcomes among nearly 2,000 people, mostly young adults, who suffered injuries after being hit by rubber or plastic bullets in numerous countries -- Israel/Palestine, Britain/Northern Ireland, South Asian countries, the United States, Switzerland and Turkey.

In total, 53 (3 percent) of the people died of their injuries, Haar's team reported Dec. 18 in the journal BMJ Open.

"Penetrative injuries" accounted for 56 percent of the deaths, and blunt trauma for 23 percent of the deaths, the research group said.

Disability after being hit by a rubber or plastic bullet wasn't rare, either: About 300 (16 percent) of survivors suffered permanent disability. Blindness and removal of the spleen or a section of the bowel due to abdominal injuries accounted for most of this disability, the study found.

In fact, of the more than 2,100 injuries reported, 71 percent were judged to be severe, with injuries to the skin, hands and feet most common.

Several of the studies also found that rubber or plastic bullets are highly inaccurate and can miss the target -- injuring peaceful demonstrators and bystanders instead.

The Internet's Most Trusted Source For Mental Health Information
Sign up

The bottom line, Haar and her colleagues said, is that rubber and plastic bullets "do not appear to be an appropriate means of force in crowd-control settings," and international guidelines on the use of crowd-control weapons are required to halt further needless injury and death.

More information

Find out more about traumatic injuries at the University of Florida.


Copyright © 2013-2017 HealthDay. All rights reserved.


Related Content

Freedom From OCD: An Original Series on Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
Freedom From OCD: An Original Series on Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

It is estimated over 1.2% of the adult population wrestles with Obsessive-Compul...

Read more
Freedom From OCD - Official Trailer
Freedom From OCD - Official Trailer

An original 6-episode series on obsessive-compulsive disorder, available instant...

Read more
A Young Mother's Addiction Led To Death & Her Obituary Struck An International Chord
A Young Mother's Addiction Led To Death & Her Obituary Struck An International Chord

Madelyn Ellen Linsenmeir died on Sunday, October 7. While her death was unexpect...

Read more
Why Are Children In Class Being Wrongly Labelled As Having ADHD So Frequently?
Why Are Children In Class Being Wrongly Labelled As Having ADHD So Frequently?

Parents worried about their child falling behind academically because they are b...

Read more
The Real Causes Of Anxiety & Depression Might Not Be What You Think
The Real Causes Of Anxiety & Depression Might Not Be What You Think

Across the Western world today, if you are depressed or anxious and you go to yo...

Read more
Companies Are Opening Their Doors To Talent With Autism
Companies Are Opening Their Doors To Talent With Autism

Twenty-seven-year-old Christopher Pauley thought he had it all figured out when ...

Read more