The US Department of Homeland Security is working on a torch-like "light-sabre" weapon, designed to leave aliens (illegal ones, that is) stumbling and puking helplessly.
S&T Snapshots, an inhouse journal of the DHS Science and Technology arm, reports that the S&T Directorate's Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) office has a contract with Intelligent Optical Systems, a small Californian company. Bob Lieberman and Vladimir Rubtsov, leading lights of Intelligent Optical, are developing the regurge-rapier tech for DHS.
"There are often confrontations at border crossings with suspected illegal aliens or drug runners," Lieberman told S&T Snapshots. "You don't want to hurt or kill them, just take them into custody. With this," he said - apparently with a smile, no doubt a rather sinister one. "They don't need to know English to comply."
The plan is that riot-boffins from Pennsylvania State University's Institute of Nonlethal Defense Technology, will try the vomit-dazzle beam out on volunteers this autumn. Hopefully they'll do it on a tiled floor, or put down some plastic sheet or something.
"There's one wavelength that gets everybody," chortled Lieberman, worryingly. "Vlad calls it the evil color."
Good old Vlad. What a card.
S&T Snapshots fed-scribes write that: "The light could be used to make a bad guy turn away or shut his eyes, giving authorities enough time to tackle the suspect and apply the cuffs... "
Provided the lawmen didn't slip in the pools of vomit, anyway - or wander into any, erm, projectiles. It's no picnic in the DHS, clearly.
At the moment the sick-sabre module is a bit on the tubby side, at four inches thick and over a foot long. Lieberman and Rubtsov hope to get it down to Mag-lite torch/truncheon* dimensions soon - though there is also talk of a "wide-angle" bazooka-sized device, capable of "immobilising a mob".
This latter option sounds almost too awful to contemplate: hundreds of hapless would-be migrants floundering in a self-generated chunky lake. This type of heavy chunder-cannon ordnance is also under investigation by the US armed forces, as it happens. They want to mount it on a flying robot, naturally.
Still, fearful as the disco hurl-gun may be, its effects could be marginally less unpleasant than being clubbed, shot, or electrified into submission. And it could be relatively easy to circumvent, too.
If, as S&T Snapshots suggests, the chunder-cutlass "could be in the hands of thousands of policemen, border agents, and National Guardsmen" by 2010, we might see big uptake of mirrorshades among the huddled masses. ®
*You didn't think plods carried those things just to light stuff up, did you?