Willimantic Cops First in Connecticut with ‘Less-Lethal’ FN 303 Guns

Darren McCollester/Getty Images
Darren McCollester/Getty Images

This week, police in Willimantic, Connecticut, became the first officers in the state to use the “less-lethal” FN 303 guns.

The FN 303 is a compact rifle that shoots a paintball-like projectile, instead of a bullet. Proponents say that when used correctly, the FN 303 will help subdue suspects without the possibility of “long-term effects.”

According to NBC Connecticut, Willimantic police spokesman Cpl. Stan Parizo, Jr., said, “When you hit somebody with a Taser, it locks them up, but they have to fall. Where they fall is going to be the problem. If you’re on the concrete or highway, they can fall on the guardrail, they can fall and hit curbing.” But the idea behind the FN 303 is to subdue without significant injuries of any kind.

The projectiles fired from the FN 303 can also be filled with pepper spray so that when police shoot a suspect, the ball splats on contact, releasing the irritant.

But for the FN 303 to work as promised–without “long-term effects”–police have to be trained to shoot in a way that runs counter to their general firearms training; they have to be trained to shoot extremities, instead of vital areas. Those extremities include the arms and only certain parts of the legs. A Willimantic patrolman, Robert Tatro, said, “The head is off limits. The groin is off limits. The spine is off limits. The kidneys are off limits.”

He did say officers will be allowed to shoot a suspect in the torso “if the officer is far enough away.”

The FN 303 holds 15 rounds, and one is expected to be “in every patrol car beginning next week.”

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