In the open country along the Southwest border, law enforcement can be a game of distance and numbers. Smugglers, human traffickers and migrants count on vast stretches of unguarded border to ensure safe passage. The Los Angeles Times says that leaves Border Patrol agents and county sheriff's deputies chasing people through open space, often at night, their targets too far for a stun gun, which can reach only about eight to 10 feet. Yesterday, Arizona’s Pinal County Sheriff's Office said it would become the nation's first police agency to use the Osa handgun, a Russian-designed four-chamber break-action pistol that uses a laser target pointer and shoots rubber bullets. It's a weapon they say will lead to more captures and fewer deaths on the border.
“Illegal immigrants don't generally have guns, but they could be throwing rocks,” said Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu, who demonstrated the weapon's accuracy by striking a target from 15 feet away. “I've seen those incidents end with someone getting shot, someone getting killed.” With a less lethal option, the number of deaths will fall, he said. The rubber bullets from the Osa, named for the Russian word for “wasp,” strike targets with the force of a person swinging a baseball bat or a punch from a professional boxer, said Leao Gitirana of the U.S. distributor of the gun, Defenzia. The rounds have blunt edges and are not designed to pierce. “Pain compliance is what we’re looking for,” Gitirana said. The Guardian newspaper, citing Russian government statistics, reported that 70 people were killed and 600 people injured by rubber-bullet weapons in the country from 2006 to 2011.