Less Lethal Launchers

Less lethal launchers are a type of firearm that fires less lethal ammunition, often referred to as riot guns, anti-riot guns, crowd control weapons, or less lethal/less than lethal/non-lethal launchers. There are many different types ranging from generic launchers that fire a wide range of less lethal ammunition to specially designed compressed-air guns that fire small, specialist, projectiles. The launchers come in many different shapes, sizes, and calibres. Common calibres include 37/38 mm, 40 mm, 56 mm, and 12 gauge (shotguns). This page includes information on common types of less lethal launchers, relevant reports, and resources.

These launchers and associated ammunition are often used used by law enforcement officers around the world to disperse protests, however they should never be used to disperse peaceful protests.

Omega records the manufacturers of different types of less lethal launchers, where they are used, and the injuries they inflict. Information we gather on the physical appearance of the launchers is frequently used by human rights defenders to identify the type of weapons used against them. We call for prohibitions on the trade and use of multiple barrel launchers, as well as for robust controls to be placed on the trade and use of other kinds to ensure they are not used to violate human rights.

Reports

Resources

Guide on Law Enforcement Equipment Most Commonly Used in the Policing of Assemblies
This guide, developed jointly by ODIHR and Omega, seeks to share some of the technical knowledge monitors need to accurately and independently document the presence and manner of use of law enforcement equipment during public as-semblies.
Available languages: English|Russian
Guidlines for Documentation of Injuries from Policing Weapons and Equipment
Guidelines for documenting injuries from policing weapons and equipment (Brazilian Portuguese)
Available languages: Portuguese
Introduction to law enforcement equipment
An introduction to different types of policing equipment (2015).
Available languages: Arabic|English|French|Spanish
Launchers chapter – Visual Guide
This chapter from our Visual Guide to Law Enforcement Equipment covers the different types of less lethal launchers use by law enforcement.
Available languages: English
Practical Guide to monitoring places of detention
A guide to help people monitoring places of detention identify and document policing weapons and equipment.