Three days into the London riots, British Prime Minister David Cameron authorized Metropolitan Police forces to use rubber bullets as an emergency crowd control measure, a move which has raised controversy due to the weaponry's dicey reputation.
Classified as "nonlethal" or "less lethal" weapons, along the same lines as chemical irritants and stun guns, rubber bullets - which typically consist of a 40-millimeter metal shell coated in rubber - are meant to incapacitate targets without causing serious injury or death.
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But since their early use in the 1970s, medical professionals, human rights groups and government officials have criticized rubber bullets, also known as baton rounds, because they say the so-called nonlethal weapons can kill.
The British government was one of the first to deploy rubber bullets on a large scale - and see resulting casualties - during clashes with the Irish Republican Army.
From 1970 to 1975, the British military fired off 55,000 rounds of 5.9-inch (15-centimeter) rubber bullets in Northern Ireland, reportedly killing 13 people at a death rate of 1 in 18,000 rounds and resulting in a severe injury rate of 1 in 800.