Tear Gas – Banned In Warfare, But OK For Law Enforcement?
With images of protestors, rioting, and looters all over the TV, social media, and newspapers, the one constant that you keep seeing is the use of tear gas to disperse a crowd. We saw it yesterday evening right before President Trump made his address from the Rose Garden. Capital Police and National Guard troops cleared out a crowd of peaceful protesters using physical force, rubber bullets, and of course, tear gas. We also saw it used a lot in the Capital Region over the last few days due to rioting. Last night tear gas was used after firecrackers were thrown at police on Henry Johnson Boulevard.
Ever wondered why tear gas is banned pretty much internationally for warfare and yet it's still used by our law enforcement?
There's even a meme being shared by people that asks the question, "Tear gas has been classified as a chemical weapon and banned in international conflict since 1993. Why is its use allowed by U.S. police forces?"
The use of chemical weapons, and yes tear gas is a chemical weapon, was banned originally in 1925 after chemical weapons were used in great numbers during WWI.
The Protocol for the Prohibition of the Use in War of Asphyxiating, Poisonous or other Gases, and of Bacteriological Methods of Warfare, usually called the Geneva Protocol, is a treaty prohibiting the use of chemical and biological weapons in international armed conflicts. It was signed at Geneva on 17 June 1925 and entered into force on 8 February 1928. Wikipedia It was updated and renegotiated in 1993.
So why does law enforcement still use it? It was negotiated in the 1990s to allow police to use tear gas in rioting situations because it's seen as a less-lethal option. The law enforcement community pushed back that the ban would give them fewer non-lethal ways of dealing with civil unrest. Since nothing else has taken its place, it's still used.
Tear gas is still used in military training and is part of basic training, but it isn't used in military conflict. I was told by a member of the military that I know, the reason they really don't use it is that in most cases it's ineffective on the battlefield, and causes harm to noncombatant civilians. Plus, with all the variations of chemical weapons, it was decided that it was just easier to just ban them all in warfare.
If you have been exposed to tear gas:
- Get out of the gas-filled area.
- Face into the wind. Fresh air will help blow excess tear gas powder off of you.
- Rinse your eyes with cold water.
- Rinse your clothing and body with cold water. DO NOT use hot water. Using hot water will open your pores and allow the chemicals to seep further in, resulting in even more skin irritation. ~www.aftermath.com
Just be glad that our law enforcement doesn't use the "Skunk Water", an organic riot-control item developed by the Israelis. It was described as the "worst, most foul thing you have ever smelled. An overpowering mix of rotting meat, old socks that haven't been washed for weeks -- topped off with the pungent waft of an open sewer." PolitiFact