LOS ANGELES (AP) - Police dealing with protesters at the Democratic
Convention may be armed with paintball guns that shoot balls filled with
The balls, as big around as a nickel, would be used only against
who are violent or destroying property, a police spokesman said. He said
Police Department had ordered the guns but no decision had been reached
whether they would be deployed during the Aug. 14-17 convention.
Paintball is a war game in which players use high-powered air guns,
capsules filled with water-based paint. Instead of paint, the police
use the pepper spray.
Pepper spray canisters are standard issue, but using the guns would
police to hit from a distance, Sgt. John Pasquariello said Monday.
very accurate weapon ... so you can pinpoint people, and then an arrest
would move in,'' he said.
Using the guns would be important, he said, ``because we are certainly
outnumbered in a mass demonstration situation and we need tools that can
control a large number of people without hurting them.''
Balls fired from a stock paintgun travel about 240 feet per second,
welt when they strike someone's skin, said Matt Boggs, a gun technician
I&I Sports in Carson, which sells paintball equipment.
Participants playing at licensed paintball fields are required to wear
and eye protection, he said.
Police are aware of the injury risk, but officers who use non-lethal
such as beanbag-firing shotguns, are trained to fire at a person's torso
avoid his head, Pasquariello said.
Protest organizers criticized potential use of the paintball guns,
weapons could inflame a crowd rather than quiet it.
``Police tactics can seriously escalate situations that don't need to be
escalated, and that's why everybody is calling on them to use
said Lisa Fithian of Direct Action Network, an advocacy group formed
the World Trade Organization protests last year in Seattle.