It's called “The Alternative,” because it's an alternative for a bullet when law enforcement officers are faced with the decision to take that first and possibly deadly shot, reports U-T San Diego. Alternative Ballistics, the Poway, Ca., company that makes it, says it can save lives and keep officers safe. The Ferguson, Mo., police department, shadowed in controversy since a white officer shot an unarmed black man last August, is trying it out. The neon-orange gun attachment is about 4½ inches long and resembles the letter “i.” It mounts on the rail system of a weapon, and a ping-pong sized metal ball with a bullet-shaped cavity positions over the muzzle. When the gun is fired, the bullet shoots into the metal ball, and the two fuse together to become a less-lethal projectile. The very next shot is a regular bullet.
“We're basically an air bag for a bullet,” said Christian Ellis, CEO of the company. “We slow it down, we make it bigger and we mitigate the lethal potential and the penetrability of that bullet tremendously. It's going to hurt. A lot. But the odds are tremendously improved that (the shot person is) going to survive.” Some speculate the product could put officers in more danger, or even encourage officers to use a firearm in situations when they normally wouldn't. The Alternative has been available only since May, but it's generating buzz. Two other departments, one in Ohio and one in California, are going to train with the $45 product, Ellis said. More than 50 departments across the U.S. and 17 international agencies have requested a demonstration.