Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California plans to install high-powered machine guns over the next few months capable of hitting land vehicles or aircraft almost a mile away in the event of a terrorist attack, says the San Francisco Chronicle. Known as Gatling guns because they are multi-barreled, they simultaneously fire 7.62mm bullets from six barrels at up to 4,000 rounds per minute, powerful enough to take down an enemy aircraft or helicopter, officials said. The guns will give the nuclear weapons lab greater ability to guard its huge cache of radioactive plutonium, said Linton Brooks, head of the U.S. National Nuclear Security Administration.
Manufactured by Dillon Aero of Scottsdale, Az., the guns cost between $50,000 and $75,000, depending on accessories, and can unleash their barrage of bullets up to 1,500 meters or nearly a mile away. Lab spokesperson David Schwoegler said the plan to equip the lab with the high-tech guns has been “closely coordinated with all local and federal law enforcement agencies.” A lab critic called the plan a threat to innocent men, women, and children, particularly with the lab being across the street from suburban homes. A better solution would be to investigate ways to remove the plutonium and other weapons-grade nuclear materials from the lab, said Marylia Kelley of Tri Valley Cares, an anti-nuclear group. “There are residential homes all up and down what is the western perimeter of Livermore lab,” she said. “You always see children on their bicycles or skateboards, people walking their dogs; you can’t just indiscriminately open fire.”