New Gun Shoots “DNA” Bullets

A company called SelectaDNA has developed
a special kind of paintball gun that shoots uniquely-coded DNA pellets. It’s being billed
as a highly effective tool against rioters and other disturbers of the peace. The gun
comes in both pistol and rifle forms and marks the targets that can be apprehended at a later
time, at a less confrontational time, by officers. According to the company: “On contact with
the target the uniquely-coded SelectaDNA solution leaves a synthetic DNA trace mark that will
enable the relevant authorities to confirm or eliminate that person from their involvement
in a particular situation and could ultimately lead to arrest and prosecution.”
Now, I’ll get to whether this is a good idea in a minute. See, I thought this DNA
marking technology was a brand new thing, but according to the company a version of
this DNA marking is currently being used by ¾ of the UK’s police force to mark people’s
valuables. For under $200 the police will come to your house, mark any valuables you
want marked with this special “glue” that dries on clear within minutes. Then they slap
a sticker on your window to alert potential burglars that the contents of your home or
vehicle are protected by SelectaDNA. According to the company, when burglars see a SelectaDNA
sticker on property, they are 85% less likely to burglarize it. While that number may be
a bit overstated, there is no doubt that this stuff has real, practical use. If stolen property
[marked] by SelectaDNA gets recovered by police, they can identify the owner within 3 days.
Even corporations like McDonald’s have started using SelectaDNA that allows employees to
spray robbers with the same stuff that’s in the pellets as they leave the store, marking
them for later identification and physically tying them to the crime scene once they’re
apprehended. Marking a robber – or property that could be stolen by a burglar – is one
thing, shooting somebody in a crowd of “rioters” is a whole other thing and presents a few
problems like: 1) What if cops miss, hit somebody who’s just
standing around, apprehend them later and charge them with a crime thinking they were
the ones that they intended to hit in the first place?
2) There is a real possibility that a less upstanding country or police force could use
the guns to shoot and mark people in a crowd of protesters for future retribution.
So, while this technology is mind blowing and could do a lot of good, just like drones
flying around in American skies, I’m far from convinced that the positives outweigh
the negatives. I’m also afraid that, just like drones, police forces are always going
to invest implement, the newest kinds of technology before the public has had adequate time to
debate whether it should be implemented. And long before the courts have time to consider
how to deal with it.


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