Sneak was somewhat disturbed by news of an advanced crowd-control weapon under development in the US. Not content with the existing Taser - which fires projectiles trailing wires, delivering a paralysing electric shock to the unfortunate victim - the police and security forces will soon have access to a device known as the Close Quarters Shock Rifle. According to New Scientist magazine, this projects an ionised gas or plasma towards the target, producing a conducting channel along which electric current can flow. This will sound eerily familiar to players of the 3D shoot-em-up game Quake, which featured a rather nasty weapon called the lightning gun. Surely a case of life imitating art? New Scientist quite rightly worries about the potential misuses of this device, which is intended for quelling disturbances such as riots but could equally be used as an instrument of torture. Sneak can also see another drawback, however: if it is anything like Quake's lightning gun, it won't mix well with water. Sneak hopes riot police will remember to deploy their new weapon before they resort to water-cannon, not after...
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