In response to nationwide protests sparked by the killing of George Floyd in May 2020, law enforcement has used tear gas or rubber bullets in over 100 U.S. cities. The use of these and other “less lethal weapons” (LLWs) for crowd control has been heavily criticized. These weapons have often been used indiscriminately against peaceful assemblies and have been blamed for escalating confrontations. Dozens of people have been injured by “less lethal” projectiles, including peaceful protesters, journalists, and legal observers.
To address the abuse of LLWs at protests, municipalities, states, and the federal government has introduced, and in many cases enacted, new legislation to limit the use of these weapons. This briefer provides an overview and analysis of the most common types of reforms.