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Under existing American law, advances in non-lethal weapons increasingly make the use of firearms for defense unlawful and the Second Amendment of little practical significance. As the effectiveness and availability of less lethal weapons increase, the choice of a lethal firearm for protection is a choice to use more force than is necessary, in violation of existing self-defense law. At the same time, a shift to non-lethal weapons increases the frequency of situations in which a person’s use of force is authorized because defenders with non-lethal weapons are freed from the special proportionality requirements that limit the use of deadly force. Available for download at


self-defense, non-lethal weapons, criminal law

Publication Title

Boston University Law Review

Publication Citation

89 B. U. L. Rev. 251 (2009)