Time for your weirdest tech story of the day. So, maybe you’ve heard of stun guns or tasers. Well, now you can meet their cowboy-adjacent cousin — the BolaWrap. This non-lethal alternative to traditional firearms essentially whips a lasso around people to restrain them. So, like a cowboy but without any of the style. You can see a video that shows this weird lasso gun in action below.
Ok, so maybe we could see this working as a stun gun alternative, though that’s not to say that it won’t get inevitably used when it’s unnecessary. But now this startup is wanting to put these in–wait for it–schools. We’re pretty sure that school teachers don’t need a lasso gun to teach science and English, but the company is trying to sell their case anyway.
The lasso gun is already being used by a number of law enforcement agencies all over the country. Unfortunately, it’s also already being used in controversial ways. In 2021, a Black transgender woman reportedly experiencing a mental health crisis was restrained by one of these devices without attempts to deescalate the situation first. The company behind the gun, Wrap Technologies, touts the weapon as humane and pain-free, however, the way the gun works would seem to indicate a different story.
The lasso gun uses Kevlar tethers with pronged hooks. The gun utilizes gunpowder to propel the tether, launching it quickly at targets. However, its own website mentions that metal hooks can penetrate the skin, which would undoubtedly not be humane or pain-free. Also, there’s no accounting for who is wielding the weapon, especially if these are becoming available for people without firearm training. Undoubtedly, having these wrapped around a person’s neck or head could be a dangerous experience. The above footage showing the lasso gun is also carefully selected by the company, whereas in-the-field bodycam footage may paint a different picture.
Unsurprisingly, the CEO in charge of these lasso guns is Tom Smith, who was also the CEO of Taser, Inc. Tasers were touted to be safe and non-lethal, but have reportedly been the cause of a number of deaths since their introduction. Notably, mental health professionals have come out against the use of these devices, saying that they will likely just make situations worse rather than resolve them. Which makes sense. If someone is having a mental health crisis, restraining them in such a way is likely to cause them more stress. Not to mention those who are mentally disabled. Often, the help of a mental health professional is needed when these situations arise, not the use of an allegedly non-lethal restraining gun.
Even if these do take off in law enforcement agency circles, having these lasso guns expand to hospitals, schools, and homes seems like a dangerous and controversial plan. While the company selling the lasso gun may believe that teachers need a Kevlar tether launched using gunpowder, it’s hard to imagine this is what teachers are asking for to help them manage their classrooms. And we shudder to think about some of our neighbors walking around with these in hand. I think it’s safe to say that we should probably leave the fancy gadgets to someone like Batman, instead of putting them in untrained hands.