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Revisiting DIY HERF Guns 425

Posted by kdawson
from the scrambled-not-fried dept.
An anonymous reader writes "HERF guns have previously been regarded as nothing more than an interesting project with uses ranging from at-home experiments to malicious pranks. But the deployment of 'morally gray' forms of high-tech crowd control, such as the recent use of a sound cannon against domestic protesters, along with the likely future unleashing of the pain gun on more than just 'foreign terrorists,' creates a new purpose for these relatively easily assembled devices. Could HERF guns become a new method to counter the silencing of protesters via these sophisticated attacks, or is there any other way to prevent such efficient, convenient crowd dispersal?"
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Revisiting DIY HERF Guns

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  • by FooAtWFU (699187) on Sunday September 27, 2009 @05:24PM (#29559703) Homepage
    a HERF gun is "(a device like EMP but directional) ... capable of stalling cars at a distance and crashing computers as well."
    • by causality (777677) on Sunday September 27, 2009 @05:31PM (#29559745)

      a HERF gun is "(a device like EMP but directional) ... capable of stalling cars at a distance and crashing computers as well."

      I have no intention of actually doing this since it sounds like a great way to get in trouble. So, this is entirely hypothetical. I have thought of what it would be like to have a device like this in your trunk, and arranged so that it can transmit through the trunk lid (maybe this would entail replacing a part of the metal lid with something more transmissive) and pointed backwards. Then, some aggressive idiot wants to tailgate you, you tap your brake lights to ask him to back off. If he doesn't, you flip a switch under your dashboard and kill his engine by letting the EMP disrupt the electronics that control the ignition system. Then watch him disappear in your rear-view as he is forced to pull over with what momentum he has left. That would be most satisfying. Of course, you'd probably have to shield your own electronics, but it could be done.

      • by Brian Gordon (987471) on Sunday September 27, 2009 @05:34PM (#29559767)

        What could possibly go wrong?

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by causality (777677)

          What could possibly go wrong?

          Again, this is entirely hypothetical. I addressed such concerns for the person with the device by noting you'd probably have to shield your own electronics. For the person tailgating, well, that person is attempting to bully you into driving the way he wants you to drive by threatening you with an increased chance of a car accident. This is particularly true when they have an easy way to pass you and/or when you are already speeding.

          I have little concern for what becomes of people who decide to be agg

          • by node 3 (115640) on Sunday September 27, 2009 @06:25PM (#29560137)

            I have little concern for what becomes of people who decide to be aggressive assholes without provocation, to be honest with you. They invite any misfortune they receive.

            Um, no.

            First off, not all tailgating is the same. Not to entirely justify it, but sometimes a person will pull into the left lane and either maintain the same speed as the right lane (two-lane scenario, for simplification), or so minimally faster that it will take several miles before they pass the car on their right. All the while there is a good 1/8th mile of empty road before the two cars *and* they're both under the speed limit.

            In those cases, it's the fucker in the left lane that's creating an unsafe circumstance.

            However, in neither case does the two parties involved deserve to be deliberately put into danger. The slow-poke in the left lane doesn't deserve to be tailgated, but neither does the person behind him deserve to have his car disabled while driving in excess of 50mph.

            Best way to avoid such situations is to stay the fuck out of the left lane if you have more than about 75-100 ft of empty road ahead of you, you aren't moving appreciably faster than the lane to your right, and you have someone riding your tail. Problem averted, you haven't inconvenienced yourself, and you have diffused a dangerous situation that you are partly responsible for, all without escalating the situation.

            Or, you could just do as you are envisioning, and out-asshole the asshole behind you by deliberately disabling, maybe even damaging his car, and putting those behind him and beside him in mortal danger.

            • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

              by Anonymous Coward

              What happens when the tailgating a**hole gets a taste of that medicine and soon turns into an a***hole with a HERF gun who activates it at random times, to have fun (when he's not getting tailgated)... or points it at people trying to pass them and activates it.
              Yeah, no way this technique could backfire...

              In those cases, it's the fucker in the left lane that's creating an unsafe circumstance.

              Yep, and in most cases breaking the law too.

              Many states have a law specifically banning use of the left lane, exce

            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              by mortonda (5175)

              but sometimes a person will pull into the left lane and either maintain the same speed as the right lane (two-lane scenario, for simplification), or so minimally faster that it will take several miles before they pass the car on their right.

              Just so you know, this is illegal in Kansas [kake.com], as of July 1st. They will be issuing warnings for a year, and then start ticketing.

              • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

                by nabsltd (1313397)

                Just so you know, this is illegal in Kansas [kake.com], as of July 1st. They will be issuing warnings for a year, and then start ticketing.

                My prediction is that there will be 1 ticket for this issued for every 1000 speeding tickets issued because of radar (or other devices that require no real work on the part of the police).

                Seriously, I've seen many cops completely ignore drivers pulling incredibly stupid moves in order to pull someone over doing 5mph over the limit, and all simply because with the radar the cop doesn't need to put himself on the line to testify. Any "reckless driving" sort of ticket requires the cop to really explain why it

            • by Brewmeister_Z (1246424) on Sunday September 27, 2009 @10:40PM (#29561759)

              I first noticed this type of driving in Iowa while working a co-op education job for a company there. I grew up in South Dakota so there was not as many multi-lane highways or congestion on them as in other places. However, when I drove on the highways in Iowa, it seemed that there were many drivers that would play the game of "match the speed" with the car next to them thus creating traffic slowdowns and clustering of cars which means more tailgating and frustration. I heard people jokingly call Iowa an acronym for Idiots Out Wandering Around and I believed it after working there for a summer.

            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by jonadab (583620)
              > sometimes a person will pull into the left lane and either
              > maintain the same speed as the right lane (two-lane scenario,
              > for simplification), or so minimally faster that it will take
              > several miles before they pass the car on their right

              That's passing-lane bunching, and it's not the same thing as tailgating. It *is* dangerous and stupid, but it's also somewhat understandable, and it only lasts for a minute or two on each occasion, so it doesn't make the person in front jumpy and nervous. A
            • by RoverDaddy (869116) on Monday September 28, 2009 @10:58AM (#29565795) Homepage
              Sorry, I disagree with one of your points. As long as I'm passing somebody, I get to decide the speed with which I pass them, not the car behind me. I'm responsible for my safety, not them. I'm typically talking about a case where the car behind me would like to be going 80+, and I'm passing at 70 a car to my right going 65. Yes, a 5 mph difference means the driver behind me may get impatient. Too damn bad.

              Name provided because I believe in this -very- strongly. If you want something to complain about, complain about the drivers that sit anywhere but the right line without passing anybody at all.
          • by blueskies (525815)

            I just increase my following distance even more.

            I think if everyone slowed down for tailgaters, eventually no one would tailgate.

          • by rhizome (115711)

            However, I simply cannot deny that if there were a truly effective way to immediately shut down this behavior, there would be much less of it, nor can I deny that this would be a benefit to everyone else.

            If you are in the left lane and someone can't get past you, you are impeding traffic. Keep to the right, you have no idea why someone else might be in a hurry and it is the height of arrogance to take it upon yourself to decide.

            • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

              by causality (777677)

              However, I simply cannot deny that if there were a truly effective way to immediately shut down this behavior, there would be much less of it, nor can I deny that this would be a benefit to everyone else.

              If you are in the left lane and someone can't get past you, you are impeding traffic. Keep to the right, you have no idea why someone else might be in a hurry and it is the height of arrogance to take it upon yourself to decide.

              I won't dramatize by calling it the "height" of anything, but there certainly is a little arrogance in assuming that you know details of the situation which have not been revealed to you. Since you clearly do not have all the facts and are sorely in need of them lest you continue to portray yourself this way, I'll explain a bit about why I feel this way about aggressive drivers.

              I am not a slow driver, though not a speed demon either. Typically I am speeding just a little, though of course not during ba

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by jonadab (583620)
            > For the person tailgating, well, that person is attempting
            > to bully you into driving the way he wants you to drive

            I disagree with this assessment. Most tailgaters habitually drive on the tail of whoever happens to be in front of them, no matter *how* that person is driving. I haven't figured out *why* they do it, but I don't think it's because they're trying to elicit modified driving behavior from the person in front of them.

            However, I suspect the other poster may have been thinking more in term
            • by moeinvt (851793) on Monday September 28, 2009 @09:45AM (#29564911)

              Mod this one up:

              "Most tailgaters habitually drive on the tail of whoever happens to be in front of them, no matter *how* that person is driving. I haven't figured out *why* they do it, but I don't think it's because they're trying to elicit modified driving behavior from the person in front of them."

              I think you're absolutely right, and it was a very interesting and somewhat pleasant revelation for me. I figured this out a long time ago when I had to do some hitch-hiking while my car was undegoing major repairs. I met at least half a dozen drivers whose tailgating behavior I would previously have attributed to rudeness or impatience. These people were nice enough to pick up a poor hitch-hiker, seemingly care free and not at all in a hurry, but insisted on following the vehicles in front of them at ~1-2 car lengths when doing 40-50 mph. I couldn't figure out "why" they did it either, and I wasn't about to question the driving behavior of someone giving me a free ride. It's always nice to find out that there are fewer arseholes in the world than you had previously imagined.

      • by ShakaUVM (157947) on Sunday September 27, 2009 @05:35PM (#29559781) Homepage Journal

        >>Then, some aggressive idiot wants to tailgate you, you tap your brake lights to ask him to back off. If he doesn't, you flip a switch under your dashboard and kill his engine

        And possibly killing him as well. Having a car die in the middle of a crowded freeway is not a zero-risk event.

        I think it's kind of a disproportionate response, don't you?

        Personally I'd just like to get one of those scrolling LED text displays mounted to the back of my car. "HEY DUDE, BACK THE FUCK OFF. I'M NOT INTO THAT."

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by m.ducharme (1082683)

          And possibly killing him as well. Having a car die in the middle of a crowded freeway is not a zero-risk event.

          That is a risk I'd be willing to take*.

          Personally I'd just like to get one of those scrolling LED text displays mounted to the back of my car. "HEY DUDE, BACK THE FUCK OFF. I'M NOT INTO THAT."

          That sounds like fun too.

          *okay, not really, but wouldn't you want to?

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by sqlrob (173498)

          Tailgating is not a zero risk event. Which is riskier?

          • by westlake (615356)

            Tailgating is not a zero risk event. Which is riskier?

            The chain reaction collision in heavy traffic. There is no way the drivers behind the driver behind you can anticipate the EMP burst.

            There is also the interesting question of whether you have effectively contained and controlled the blast-
            a question that won't be answered until after you have pressed the big red button.
             

        • by causality (777677) on Sunday September 27, 2009 @06:22PM (#29560109)

          Having a car die in the middle of a crowded freeway is not a zero-risk event.

          I agree, which is the main reason why this is a hypothetical idea that I have no intention of ever implementing. Not ever, for any reason. Nor would I advocate that anyone else do so. It's alright to imagine fictional ideas like this because I plan to keep them fictional. If anything, this discussion for me is about human nature and the observation that there are so many who bully and take advantage because there are so few who decide that they will not tolerate it.

          I think it's kind of a disproportionate response, don't you?

          Not really, not when you consider that the other person is using the threat of a car accident to try to intimidate you into doing what he wants you to do. People who are concerned about their own safety don't do things like this. That it happens all the time doesn't change the nature of it. You could also add up every accident that has ever happened in this country during which one vehicle rear-ended another, add up the total dollar amount of the property damage, add up the total number of people who were injured or killed because someone was following too closely, and then tell me if you still think an effective deterrent is disproportionate. Every last accident of this type was entirely preventable, which only makes them more unjust, for that means that the inconvenience of paying attention was more important to the at-fault party than the safety of others. There are car accidents where you can say "damn, ANYONE in that position wouldn't have been able to see that coming" but this just isn't it.

          Besides, let's assume for the sake of argument that this is in fact a disproportionate response. There is plenty of precedent in law for increasing the penalty of a crime in the hopes that it has a deterrent effect on would-be criminals. This is particularly true for crimes where the individual criminal's chance of getting caught is low. Of course with the law you also generally have due process, which is absent here. This then would be more like those states which have enabled conceal-carry gun permits for law-abiding citizens, and as a result have seen violent crime drop significantly.

          Gun control advocates have a real hard time admitting this, but the way this works is simplicity itself: criminals want helpless victims, and they think twice when their would-be victim is likely to be able to defend himself. To me, bullies on the road are no different in principle. They are cowards, and as such they put themselves in positions where they can hassle others with little fear of harm to themselves. An EMP device like what I imagine would give them something to think twice about. The result would not be a high number of people whose engines get stopped via EMP. No, the result would be far fewer tailgaters. What reasonable, law-abiding, non-aggressive driver would find that undesirable?

        • by Rogerborg (306625) on Sunday September 27, 2009 @08:06PM (#29560865) Homepage

          Having a car die in the middle of a crowded freeway is not a zero-risk event.

          It's zero risk to me. What are you, some kind of communist?

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by icebraining (1313345)

      Can that kill cellphones that are blasting shitty and distorted hiphop? That would be great!

  • ... the sort of thing that can work both ways.

  • bad idea (Score:2, Insightful)

    by sarduwie (1571169)

    I can't claim to know what HERF is without a visit to wikipedia, but compared to protesters, authorities will always outperform them when it comes to weaponry.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      When it comes to brute force power, you're right. However, brute force is not everything. Even an underpowered adversary may win, with sufficient brains and other factors. Weapons are a force multiplier; nothing more, nothing less. Brains, decentralization, and sheer numbers, are just a few of many other factors We The People have at our disposal.
      Don't give up in advance.

  • by siddesu (698447) on Sunday September 27, 2009 @05:32PM (#29559757)

    Yes, there is. Too bad most of the people in countries where it is available think little of it. It is called voting, and it works - although not very often. The idea is, basically, that you vote your friends into your parliament and they pass laws that forbid hi-tech crowd control.

    A serious coordination effort is needed for that to happen, which would have been facilitated by some electronic medium that allows easy and cheap communication over large distances, by wire or otherwise. Maybe someone can build a prototype of such a medium as well?

    • by bcmm (768152) on Sunday September 27, 2009 @05:42PM (#29559817)
      The US and UK have two parties each, and the two parties are basically not very different. Barring a few specific situations, votes for other parties or independents have no effect. If you don't agree with the way things are, you can't stand for the major parties, and I'm not too familiar with the US system, but the UK's "first past the post" system makes it nearly impossible for new parties to go anywhere, as the only way for one to become effective would be for large numbers of people to throw their votes away for several elections in a row.

      Sometimes, voting is not going to change anything.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Paracelcus (151056)

        In the US, the "two party system" is a sham designed to keep the real power(s) (in power) and no one could ever have a successful third party.
        In fact, the most successful "third party" presidential candidates (Libertarian & Green) are forbidden entry into the presidential debates (even as audience attendees).
        In many states new laws have been passed which effectively prevent any participation by third party groups by making it impossible to get a candidate on the ballot.
        In the US (IMHO) the government is

      • "Sometimes, voting is not going to change anything." Whoa there sparky! No offense but this is EXACTLY the sentiment that keeps the corrupt in power. Especially in a country like the United States, the ability of congress, or elected officials in general, to infringe on your rights is proportional to your willingness to accept it. I am from a small town in North Carolina, our local government was using federal authority to condemn property along a projected water works project. It was supported by 80% of our local elected officials. Our High School took it upon ourselves to put an end to this because two of our teachers were losing their family homes because of it. We found candidates who were qualified and AGAINST the use of eminent domain and campaigned for and with them. We managed to replace 75% of our incumbents in a single election, in my town all officials are elected for two year terms, including our mayor. We held public rallies and carnival like events explaining how the government was stealing "Your land" and caused the mass replacement of elected officials. The waterworks project was canceled, and my ex-teachers are still in their homes. The point of this rant is this, the day we stop exercising our right to a democracy is the day we lose it. Sitting on your couch complaining about what is going on achieves nothing! As long as a large section of the population is uninterested corruption becomes ever more common. Democracy works but it requires you to care. Anyone that does not get involved with politics but complains about the outcome is simply asking for others to make decisions for them and do all the leg work, if you want a country where you don't have to worry about being involved with politics try Iran. It seriously sickens me to hear "Vote? What's the point?" Your FREEDOM is at stake fool! Governments rarely destroy liberty overnight, they do it peicemeal, as in "The came for the eggs, they came for the tobacco, they came for the money, they came for the land..." eventually you wake up under a dictatorship. Don't believe me? Look at world history, dictators don't come to power overnight they build a strong political base of loyalists first and THEN take over. Wake up, get off your couch, and make a difference before you have no say at all.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Ibag (101144)

        If you truly believe that the two parties are roughly equivalent and that both candidates are equally bad for the job, then, at least in Britain, you aren't throwing your vote away by choosing a third party candidate. No, you're not going to win the entire government, but you will end up with at least some representation. In the U.S., if a national third party were to get 25% of the vote in a years worth of Senate races, spread out roughly equally all across the country, absolutely nothing would come of i

        • by Tony Hoyle (11698)

          No, you're not going to win the entire government, but you will end up with at least some representation.

          Not true. Under the UK system the losing candidate in each seat gets nothing. A party could theoretically get 49% of the vote and zero seats (that would be insane, though).

          If we had proportional representation that statement might be true... as we do for the EU elections - but then everyone bitched that the BNP got a seat because a certain percentage voted for them.. so it proves we don't *want* minori

      • by Tony Hoyle (11698)

        The UK is a pathalogical case, where we even have a viable (theoretically) third party but every time there's a general election its support collapses and we're back to the 'pick one of the following: labour, conservative, throw away your vote'.

        Worse - every single general election is basically a foregone conclusion. We *already* know that the conservatives will win the next election. Hardly worth bothering with the whole democratic bit to be honest.. just give cameron the key to number 10 and see how pop

    • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

      by tftp (111690)

      The idea is, basically, that you vote your friends into your parliament and they pass laws that forbid hi-tech crowd control.

      This will work only in a parliamentary democracy, with fair elections and multiple parties. This will not work in today's USA because of the one-party (some say two-party) rule. Your voting choices would be limited to two evils, and it's hard to tell which is a lesser one. A third party, even if allowed onto the ballot, will not be elected.

      It is also hard to get enough support fo

      • by siddesu (698447)

        This will not work in today's USA because of the one-party (some say two-party) rule.

        No. It will work in any country that elects its officials and has an active, informed and participating civil society. Which begins not on elections day, but at home. People who complain about a two-party system, impossibility of change, etc. etc. are just uninformed or lazy.

        It is also hard to get enough support for small issues. I

        No, it isn't. If it were hard, there would be no lobbying industry in Washington. Most lob

    • by grcumb (781340) on Sunday September 27, 2009 @05:57PM (#29559935) Homepage Journal

      Yes, there is. Too bad most of the people in countries where it is available think little of it. It is called voting, and it works - although not very often. The idea is, basically, that you vote your friends into your parliament and they pass laws that forbid hi-tech crowd control.

      My kingdom for a mod point. Human societies often suffer from the Little Red Hen [wikipedia.org] syndrome, wherein everyone wants the bread, but nobody can be bothered to actually help prepare it.

      Democracy is a messy, tiresome, boring, downright infuriating system where one is constantly tormented by the most aggravating invention known to man: other people's opinions. It is, however, the one system that actually incorporates social/political change into its very structure. And that is something that countless people suffering under authoritarian or absolutist rulers find remarkably appealing.

      A serious coordination effort is needed for that to happen, which would have been facilitated by some electronic medium that allows easy and cheap communication over large distances, by wire or otherwise. Maybe someone can build a prototype of such a medium as well?

      The technical means exist. That's never been the problem. The issue here is creating and sustaining a culture of participation. While social networks and other means go a long way to facilitating that process, people still need to actually listen to one another. And that, as I've said, is one of the most exquisite tortures known to man. Except of course for all the other ones.

      By the way - and not coincidentally - the Beck-ification of political discourse is neither accidental nor unplanned. Politicians have known for decades that the best way to subvert democracy was simply to shout it down. It's far, far easier to manipulate a population that's splintered, resentful and incapable of conducting an actual dialogue to resolve its differences or find manageable compromise. The knee-jerk name-calling on either side of every issue, when it's echoed, magnified and given focus by mass media, is specifically designed to subvert the kind of processes that sustain democracy.

      In short: Yes, there are anti-democratic forces at play, and yet we are still our own worst enemies.

      • by petrus4 (213815) on Sunday September 27, 2009 @06:47PM (#29560287) Homepage Journal

        It is, however, the one system that actually incorporates social/political change into its very structure. And that is something that countless people suffering under authoritarian or absolutist rulers find remarkably appealing.

        a) Genuine democracy does not scale with current population levels. As someone else here said, the American Constitution was originally written for a population of 3 million, which is 1/100th of the population's current size.

        b) Government now has sufficient control of the media that they don't need to play by the rules. They can kill whoever they want, whenever they want, and then call it terrorism, and the majority of the population will not challenge it.

        c) Any attempt to displace the current government would result in unspeakably massive civilian casualties, and you can bet that the government knows that. They would be relying on the domestic population's reluctance to engage in large scale conflict, more than anything else.

        It's also a very safe thing for them to rely on. The contemporary population of the entire Western world has been domesticated more chronically than at any other time in human history. Only very small percentages of that population have actually seen active combat. The rest of them would have less than no chance, and that includes you and me. Training and physical fitness aside, the single biggest problem is probably simply the extent to which we would not have the stomach for it.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by inviolet (797804)

          b) Government now has sufficient control of the media that they don't need to play by the rules. They can kill whoever they want, whenever they want, and then call it terrorism, and the majority of the population will not challenge it.

          I think you'll have a hard time proving that 'government', or even some specific component of government, has enough control of the media in order to perpetrate something serious. They can frame a small number of people, brand them with 'pedo' or 'terrorist' or 'drug dealer'

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          It is, however, the one system that actually incorporates social/political change into its very structure. And that is something that countless people suffering under authoritarian or absolutist rulers find remarkably appealing.

          b) Government now has sufficient control of the media that they don't need to play by the rules. They can kill whoever they want, whenever they want, and then call it terrorism, and the majority of the population will not challenge it.

          You have that rather backwards. In all too many cases, it is the media who control the politicians.

      • The problem is that democracy is so incredibly easy to subvert.

        People are, by and large, easily manipulated.

        The media corporations in democratic nations mostly control the democratic process in those nations.

        Very few people who vote do so for genuine reasons; they vote the way that they do based on 'advertising', in much the same way that they decide what brand of coffee to buy.

        I have zero faith in democracy because I have zero faith in (the majority of) peoples ability to resist being manipulated by the so

      • by phantomfive (622387) on Sunday September 27, 2009 @07:37PM (#29560667) Journal
        And yet it is getting better, for lots of reasons:

        * I read a survey that shows 70% of the country believes that the news is biased and inaccurate. This is compared to 30% only a year ago. Realizing that your news source is inaccurate is the first step towards a realistic perception of the world.

        * The internet is giving people more information, and forums where they have to defend their ideas. I know it may be hard to believe, but the sophistication of the average argument on the internet is improving. Sure, we always have people going through the clueless adolescent troll stage, but compare the arguments of someone who actively posts on the internet with someone who only reads the newspaper and talks to his friends, and you will see a huge difference. You just can't get the same breadth of ideas in meatspace.

        * People actually care. In the 90s, when everything was going well, no one cared too much what the government was doing. We kind of ignored it. Now after 9/11 and Bush, people are taking a lot greater interest in their government, and are really unhappy with it. If there's one thing I can thank Bush for, it's motivating people to be more interested in government.

        * The two parties have never been weaker than now. Centrist, independent voters have become a major force to reckon with, and there is even talk that in the next few years independents might start winning elections. Really, there isn't much to like about either party, but politics move slowly, and it will take time for things to change.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Hurricane78 (562437)

      The process you're referring to is called "buying" and is done by lobbies. Voting is just a facade, because it does not matter who you vote for. Nearly everyone on the list is already bought.
      The rest is pushed out by not having tons of financed marketing.

      I say: Build your own community. Your own state. And make yourself as independent as possible. Especially from the cattle that still vote those strawmen.

    • Voting works in certain situations but not in others. The right to peaceably assemble is indeed often called into question when large crowds are concerned, especially if the authorities don't like what the crowds are assembling against. However such crowds do indeed often pose a real public safety risk.

      I see the real defence against these new anti-crowd techniques to be sousveillance. The crowd recording and quickly posting their experiances online. Showing police provocation if any, (and being peaceful

  • by pla (258480) on Sunday September 27, 2009 @05:41PM (#29559813) Journal
    But the deployment of 'morally gray' forms of high-tech crowd control [...] creates a new purpose for these relatively easily assembled devices.

    No, it creates a new purpose for the second amendment to the US constitution.

    Until a few people die to demonstrate that we won't put up with casual torture via tasers, sound cannons, pain rays, and what-have-you, the police will continue to use such technologies on the populace for increasingly trivial reasons. We've already seen them go from "nonlethal defense" to promoting "compliance" to merely enforcing obsequious levels of civility... And now, merely to clear the streets in blatant violation of another of our rights (the first).

    Can't say I have the balls to put myself in the firing line, but I predict another "Kent State" within the next few years.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Uh, you do know that the Kent State shootings [wikipedia.org] was where National Guard troops shot non-violent war protestors and not the other way around, right?

    • "Excited Delirium".

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by petrus4 (213815)

      Can't say I have the balls to put myself in the firing line, but I predict another "Kent State" within the next few years.

      The real problem is simple tactical viability. Not only are the civilian population outgunned, but they are generally out-trained as well. You have a scenario in America now where the Blackwater mercenaries truly love to fight, and are very well trained and equipped for it. That is the entire reason, I strongly suspect, why they were brought in.

      Any viable insurgency is going to need a very large percentage of the domestic population in order to have even a vague chance to succeed; and the civilian death

    • You are speaking as if the police are slowly gaining more and more power, and eventually they will overtake us or something.

      If you look over the course of history, it has been more of a wave: the police always want more power (hey, who doesn't?), and sometimes they get it, and sometimes it is taken away, depending on the needs of society. Overall it seems the power of the police has been diminishing (consider the Wineville Chicken Coup murders, or that we now have Miranda warnings, or that in the US poli
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by uvajed_ekil (914487)
      I hate to agree with such inflammatory, insensitive remarks, as my dad and aunt were present for the Kent State fiasco (and I am an alumnus), but I do in fact agree. Non-violent protests are fine and dandy and leave the few participants with a nice feeling that they tried, but these rarely seem to accomplish anything dramatic or lasting. Even what occurred in Kent in 1970 was not intended to be anything other than peaceful, but government and university folks reacted poorly, things got out of hand, some win
  • Countermeasures (Score:5, Interesting)

    by bughunter (10093) <bughunter&earthlink,net> on Sunday September 27, 2009 @05:53PM (#29559901) Journal

    I'm all for promoting homegrown electronic countermeasures, as I've long fantasized about building a directional, subsonic-targeting HERF weapon to discourage noise pollution on my residential street.

    However, I think promoting Counter-countermeasures is equally important: Faraday cages, attenuators, reflectors, and EMP-hard electronics. If you're gonna play with fireworks, then learn how to make a fire extinguisher, too.

  • Tyranny (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Kell Bengal (711123) on Sunday September 27, 2009 @06:02PM (#29559969)
    I'm all in favour of making DIY HERF devices to safeguard against tyranny. But we only need such things because the government is no longer afraid of the people who vote it into power. When ordinary people can no longer acquire the tools to depose despots, then it is a sure sign that those tools are now needed.
    • Let's get some plans up then. I am sure some of our engineer friends can help us out a bit.
    • Interesting question: I'm not american so I'm not sure exactly how it works, but would equipment like this fall under the right to bear arms, or would it get buried by some blanket "terrorist materials" law?

      It's certainly a weapon after all, but is it more gun or bomb?

      • It's clearly something they would object to, but short of violence, this is a very effective non-violent way of countering something offensive to any democratic peoples.
        Also, it can be made from a microwave oven, which every home has.
  • Pacemaker (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Improv (2467) <pgunn@dachte.org> on Sunday September 27, 2009 @06:23PM (#29560113) Homepage Journal

    All it would take is some unlucky person with a pacemaker getting near your device and you're in for negligent homicide.

    • and what when the police do it?

      7/1000 tazes results in death according to some stats I remember seeing a couple years ago.

      apparently our law enforcement is nearly immune to the law.

      Personally, i'm sick and tired of seeing our 'law enforcers' escalating their war against us civilians.

  • Hmmm (Score:2, Funny)

    by Reilaos (1544173)
    I can't be the only one who read this as "DIY NERF Guns" and imagined an arena of people duking it out with homebrewed foam weapons, right?
  • Following the link from the May 10 Slashdot, gets you a dumb miniportal site and nothing on HERF guns. Which is a pity because I wanted to know how exactly an amateur could make one, giving time a bit of money and a small budget. I far as know, most Radar and Microwave devices still use custom thermonic valve type system, with components like cavity magnetrons and Klystrons. Sure modern transistors do go up to high frequencies, but not at very high power. So I want to know what an amateur could do without a
  • by assemblerex (1275164) on Sunday September 27, 2009 @06:55PM (#29560345)
    Video 1 VS a PC [youtube.com]
    Video 2 [youtube.com]
  • Did anyone else notice that the domain of Voltage Labs, from the old article, is gone, and replaced by a domain squatter? The "find something interesting" type.

    Wow. I guess they were very successful. ;)

  • Boring (Score:3, Funny)

    by gmuslera (3436) on Sunday September 27, 2009 @08:53PM (#29561143) Homepage Journal
    Wake me up when someone puts a cheap and easy to assemble orgasmatron or tasp. That would be the ultimate weapon to control masses.
  • by camperdave (969942) on Monday September 28, 2009 @12:14PM (#29567043) Journal
    "...or is there any other way to prevent such efficient, convenient crowd dispersal?"

    I developed an apathy gas once. I thought if you just fog this into a crowd, they'd get bored and just go away. Thing is, my storage container developed a leak and I couldn't be bothered to patch it. I was partway through filling out the patent paperwork, and I figured "Meh, what's the point?". I think I have the formula somewhere, or at least part of it. I never did get around to writing it all down, and frankly, I can't be bothered to find it.

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