Who Makes Money From Tear Gas?

You’ve seen these images. Huge chemical clouds covering
crowds of demonstrators. Riot police firing off rounds and
rounds of tear gas canisters, especially in places like Hong Kong, where
riot police have been violently clashing with pro-democracy protesters
since June 2019. And they’re using a lot of tear gas. In fact, more than 10,000 canisters of
tear gas have been fired off since protests started in June 2019. It’s so much tear gas that health
officials are warning of its effects, especially as 88% of Hong Kong’s
population has been exposed to these chemicals and 7.4 million people live there. The Geneva Protocol of 1925 banned the
use of tear gas during wartime along with other chemical weapons. But tear gas can be
used in riot control situations. If I created a map for you, of
all the places where tear gas is used today, the entire map would ding. It’s been used in Chile, France, Egypt
and here in the United States, like on the U.S.-Mexico border. First of all, the tear gas is a
very minor form of the tear gas itself. It’s very safe. And during the
Ferguson, Missouri, protests in 2014, when people took to the streets to protest
the fatal police shooting of Michael Brown, an 18-year-old
unarmed black man. But its use states far back in U.S. history. Tear gas was used on what
is remembered as Bloody Sunday on March 7th, 1965. That’s when state and local police
attacked hundreds of civil rights protesters marching from Selma
to Montgomery, Alabama. However, tear gas was
deployed by U.S. police forces many times in the
decades before the events of Selma. And on top of that, tear gas is
only one of the many non-lethal weapons that make up the growing industry. There’s also rubber bullets, water
cannons, lasers, sticky foam. All of this makes non-lethal weapons,
a multi-billion dollar a year industry. And with unrest around the
globe intensifying, that industry is expected to surge by a lot. In 2016, the non-lethal weapons
market was estimated at $6.32 billion. But by 2023, this industry
could make nearly $12 billion in revenue. In the last 10 years,
tear gas and other crowd-control weapons have become a lot more popular. So, where does all
this teargas come from? It turns out a lot of
that manufacturing is happening on U.S. soil. So tear gas isn’t really a gas at all. It’s more like
a vapor, full of fine chemical dust. It’s actually a powder
inside the canister. And then when it explodes,
it aerosolizes into the air. Tear gas doesn’t just
cause eyes to water. It causes a burning sensation,
difficulty breathing, skin irritation and chest pain. It’s so painful you
want to keep your eyes closed. It makes people feel like they
can’t breathe, that they’re suffocating. Sometimes it can get into your mouth
and through your stomach and causes vomiting and things like that as well
if you inhale a lot of it. But 90% of the time, it’s probably really
just pain to the skin, the eyes, the nose and the respiratory system. As for what exactly is inside a
canister of tear gas, that’s harder to answer. There is no regulation of how
this weapon is manufactured or sold. And so no one’s required to produce
this data or to inform the public about even what chemical is there. Manufacturers aren’t saying, oh, we are
putting this concentration of tear gas, this many milligrams into
a canister of this size. They do not share that information. Early forms of tear gas were first used
at the end of the First World War. The exact details of who fired the first
shot of tear gas remains up for debate. But most historians say the
French fired tear gas grenades into German trenches in August 1914 during
the Battle of the Frontiers. There was this idea that all kind
of biological and chemical weapons after these sort of atrocities of the First
World War, that we should not be using chemical, biological weapons
as an offensive force. There was a very strong push by most
countries to have a ban on chemical and biological weapons. As this got debated and nuance,
there was often the U.S. and a few other countries often wanted
this kind of exception for tear gas. They wanted it to not be classified
in the same way as these other kinds of gases. So, various international treaties, like
the Geneva Protocol of 1925, allowed countries to still
manufacture tear gas. World powers like Germany, France, Russia,
Italy, the United Kingdom and the United States wanted to keep
the chemical warfare infrastructure after investing tons of money in its
development during World War One. So there was a very entrepreneurial general
named Amos Fries who ended up becoming the head of the chemical
warfare service in the United States, and he really went on a mission
to turn a number of different chemicals into what was called from wartime to
peacetime uses, and one of these was what we now consider to be tear gas. General Amos began what we know now as
a PR campaign to showcase tear gas as a humane alternative to
bullets in the 1920s. He kind of allied himself with lawyers
and publicists in order to create a public relations campaign to convince people
that tear gas was the thing that law enforcement and
security officials needed. In a special kit available for immediate
use is a complete assortment of gas munitions, including
projectiles and grenades. Tear gas was marketed as a
near harmless alternative to lethal force. The gas bomb is tossed in the window.
He missed the window, but he still tosses it in. And as that message circulated
newspapers in the U.S., more and more police
forces wanted the product. The pictures speak for themselves. There becomes this kind of hey,
over in Philadelphia, they’re using it. Or, like down in D.C. they’re using it. You
guys should be too. There becomes this way of everybody needing
to get in on this new technology that was going to work
for law enforcement, for peace-keeping. The commercialization of tear gas kickstarted
with two of the first major players, Federal Laboratories Inc. in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and the
Lake Erie Chemical Company in Cleveland, Ohio. Since then, the market
has expanded and tear gas has become the most widely
used non-lethal weapon. There are different kinds
of tear gas. But the most widely used form is CS. And today, the United States is the
biggest producer of CS tear gas. Tear gas is mainly deployed in three
different ways by grenade, by spray, like aerosol or water cannon, or
by projectile, like a cartridge launched by a riot gun, which is
the most common way it’s used. Out of all the non-lethal weapons used
for crowd-control, tear gas is the biggest money maker by far and a
single canister sells for around $20. Tear gas is seen more as a
go-to heaven because one little canister affects a large area people and it
is less likely to cause any lasting harm than other forms of weapon. These chemical non-lethal weapons are
expected to maintain that popularity. As for who’s making the most
money off tear gas, the U.S. is the largest developer, operator
and exporter of non-lethal weapons. U.S. companies just sort of dominate
the market because it has greater reach, because it
has multiple companies. But it’s not necessarily
that the U.S. companies like much, much bigger. Two of those big
companies are in Pennsylvania. According to Feigenbaum, the biggest
company is Combined Systems Inc. in Jamestown, Pennsylvania. The other largest U.S. manufacturer in Pennsylvania is NonLethal
Technologies in Homer City. And then there’s Safariland
in Jacksonville, Florida. These three companies did not respond
to CNBC repeated requests for comment. When it comes to exporting and
importing tear gas, it gets a little complicated. So, the reason that
you can’t get much information about tear gas being exported around
the world is because it’s not considered military equipment. You know, there are federal contracts
that show that certain equipment is sold to certain places. But because tear gas is kind of operating
at a level below that, it’s not being sold government-to-government, it’s
being sold privately from corporations to law
enforcement agencies. Tear gas trade is largely
unregulated by international standards. The U.S. Department of Commerce regulates
its trade of non-lethal weapons through export licenses. For example, U.S. exports of tear gas and other
law enforcement equipment to Hong Kong requires a license. The Commerce Department is also
responsible for enforcing those licenses, so U.S.-made tear gas cannot
be shipped abroad without government approval. However, it’s not
always that simple. There’s also buying that
doesn’t happen directly. If a distributor has bought
from Combined Systems Inc. and then that distributor could distribute
that product and that product could then show up somewhere, it
doesn’t necessarily mean that Combined Systems Inc. said yes, you can
ship that product to this place. So, because there ‘s not any
kind of international regulation or standard or trade oversight, we don’t really know
just because a weapon is in a place necessarily how it got there. Because of this, some activists have
taken the backtracking the trade process by taking photos of the used
tear gas canisters lying on the ground during a protest. Those photos are shared over social media
and have gotten a lot of attention during recent protests and
unrest around the world. For example, months of protests rocked
the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City as people learned
that tear gas made by Florida-based Safariland was reportedly used on
migrants on the U.S. border. And the CEO of Safariland, Warren
Kanders, served on the board of the museum as the vice chairman. At least until July 2019, when he
ultimately stepped down from the role because of his connections to
the tear gas manufacturer. Amid the protests, part of the
Whitney’s biennial exhibit was a project called Triplechaser, which is named after
a tear gas canister that breaks into three parts. We want to know
where exactly this tear gas has gone. We want to find ways to
make that process more efficient. Forensic Architecture developed a machine
learning technology to track tear gas canisters from protest sites
back to the companies that made them. We don’t know where this tear
gas has been sold until it’s been used. At the very bottom, at the
kind of grassroots, is one image held like this often to a
camera by an activist. I was able to find maybe a
hundred, 150 photos, of the triplechaser grenade online. That’s not enough to
train a classifier to then be speculative. So, what we have to
do is build synthetic training sets, which we can then use to teach
the classifier what’s a triplechaser and what isn’t. Once you’ve done that, once
you have the photos that either your artificial intelligence or your
human intelligence is bringing into the office, connect back
to a company. Mapping tear gas canisters this way
has showcased how some trade relationships work between
different countries. Traditionally, manufacturers in France,
Germany, Israel, the United Kingdom and the United States have
supplied the majority of the world’s crowd-control weapons. More and more companies have sprung up
all over the globe in recent years. As of 2018, more than 50
countries had companies that produce crowd-control weapons. One big issue, many of the
countries were non-lethal production has expanded into have very weak export control
systems and a lot of these products come with little or
no transparency at all. This means places with poor human
rights records can easily obtain non-lethal weapons where they
could be misused. Right now, the Asia-Pacific region is
home to the fastest growing market for non-lethal weapons, including India,
China, Australia and South Korea. One of the biggest Chinese
manufacturers is state owned, Norinco. There’s question about whether their
safety protocols and their standards are the same as the more Western
and Latin American product, which are a bit more regulated. This is of what’s happening
in Hong Kong is a lot of the European and the U.S. companies have pulled out
or paused shipments. China is coming in
and filling those shipments. The number of Chinese companies developing
these weapons has grown from 28 in 2003 to more than 140 in 2014. Brazil and the United Kingdom also
have giant manufacturers of their own. The newest player on the
scene is Condor Non-lethal Technologies. They are a Brazilian company, and so now
they do a lot of the distribution to Latin America. Brazil certainly uses lots
of tear gas. As the tear gas industry goes
global and crosses international borders, that makes it harder to regulate. Here’s the thing that’s interesting
about the riot control business, unlike how we normally think about the
arms trade, which is big weapons, big numbers. The trade in riot control weapons, the
amount of money we’re talking about is much, much smaller. As the demand for non-lethal weapons has
grown, so has the call for more restraint and regulation. But it’s unclear where exactly
those mandates will come from. We also see more of these weapons
being used in increasingly violent ways. So there are deaths from the actual
tear gas itself, mostly when it’s used excessively. But, the real significant number
of deaths that we see these days is direct trauma from the canisters,
especially if they hit the head or the neck or the
delicate bones of the face. That’s like throwing like a heavy can of
Coke out of a gun at somebody’s face. That will break bones
and they will kill people. Currently, there are several global
conventions and agencies that attempt to oversee the use of tear
gas and other non-lethal weapons. The Alliance for Torture-Free Trade, launched
in 2017 with more than 60 countries from all over the
world signed on to it. It aims to prevent, restrict and end
trade in goods intended for the use of torture or capital punishment. The United Nations also has guidance on
when and how these weapons should be used in its code of conduct
for law enforcement officials and the U.N.’s basic principles on the use
of force and firearms by law enforcement officials. There’s specific guidelines on when you
can even use any force. You can’t even think about tear gas unless
there is a need for use of force, and when that force is used,
it needs to be proportionate, it needs to be limited and it
needs to be controlled. There’s also the Chemical Weapons Convention,
which was signed in 1993. The convention bans countries from
developing or acquiring chemical weapons. Under the convention, riot control
agents like tear gas cannot be used as a method of warfare, but
they can be used for domestic riot control purposes. The manufacturers themselves also offer guidelines
as to how the product should be used. That’s also what
allows the companies to not have liability. So, when a company’s product
maims or kills somebody, they can say well the officers didn’t use it
according to the correct protocol or guidelines. Chemical irritants like tear
gas remain the most use crowd-control weapon. But, new technologies
could change that. Among the newer technologies in
non-lethal weapons are acoustic devices, also known as sound
cannons or sonic cannons. They can emit painful, loud sounds
and there are questions about their safety in crowd control contexts. My guess would be that we would not
see more use of sound to replace gas because it would come
with that same problem. It doesn’t just affect the individual
people, it affects anyone who is around. The use of stun grenades
and other devices meant to disorient people is also on the rise. These weapons create a loud explosion and/or
a very bright flash of light. But, poor regulation and almost no quality
control has led to defective or misfired stun grenades. An entirely new and developing category
is directed energy systems, also known as the active denial or ADS. These are electromagnetic heating devices
that deliver very high frequency millimeter wavelength electromagnetic rays that
heat skin on contact and cause a painful burning sensation. However, they’re still only in development
and they haven’t been used in any real world protests yet. As people around the world take to
the streets in protest and riot police attempt to take the streets back. Crowd control weapons will continue to see
demand and not just tear gas. I think it’s one of these, you
know, philosophical, like, it always makes me feel like I’m in moral philosophy
101 class where it’s like, well, would you rather I shot you in the
face or I teargassed you and your friends. Most people would choose the tear
gas, but this is not a real question. The real question should be, would
you rather I listen to your political demands and engaged you
in deliberative Democratic debate or would you rather I teargassed you.

100 thoughts on “Who Makes Money From Tear Gas?

  1. Hey Guys, theres a weapon that let people suffer a lot.
    Aaaaaaand yes, the ultra democratic and freedom lovin Regime of the US, is its biggest producer. 😂😂😂

  2. Every news agency that summarizes the shooting of Michael Brown as an ‘unarmed, teenage, black man’ really highlights their complete apathy in telling the whole story or lack of journalistic integrity

  3. If there is a protest, that's a whole lot of profit for tear gas companies. I bet last year they make a lot fortune due to a lot of protest from around the world.

  4. In Ferguson that unarmed black boy was 6 foot 7 over 300 pounds and he assaulted a old store owner during a robbery then tried assaulting a officer. Apparently he thought getting a cigar to put drugs in it was worth his life. And the rioters committed many violent and racist crimes on white elderly people during there peaceful protest

  5. You can never trust the government in any country because they work for the lobbyists rather than you. SMH 🤦🏿‍♂️

  6. FACT: Michael Brown was trying to take the officer's gun. YOU CAN'T SAY THAT'S UNARMED. Do your job news media instead of regurgitating propaganda!

  7. ok. calm down on the money maker hey!!! $20 X 10 000 cannisters fired in hong kong = $200 000……..Classic CNBC indicator lol…..

  8. All US Army Soldiers are exposed to tear gas in Basic Training. It's completely safe and the only reason it is banned in war is because of the blanket ban against all chemical weapons.

  9. I wonder what protesters would think if the tear gas was taken away and police started using bullets in its place.

  10. But if the masses of people is against something why don't gov consider them. Why one or two ppl w8 cruelty Idiotic nd trumpyness ruling us. #GodSaveHumanity

  11. 6. Why would would we need our buisness regulated by international entities?
    7. Where is your proof that this gas causes adverse health effects?
    8. It does not cause chest pain.
    9. If they are involved in a riot they are not an activist, they are a criminal.
    10. It's not misuse if people are rioting.
    11. What buisness do people breaking laws have trying to regulate the tools law enforcement needs to control them.

  12. That last line is completely disingenuous and basically invalidates the entire video. No one at a political protest is looking to engage in an informed debate. The people who engage in said protests are hard-liners who are dug in their views. Those people are set in their ways and have no intention of debate as they would never change their own views but expect others to join their cause; they are only interested in gaining political favor with the general public.

  13. WTF…■■■■. isreal shoots off way way more over the past 20 years !!! Get your facts FAIR ●●●●●

  14. LOL at the end. By the time people are having tear gas used against them, they are not interested in having a political debate. If they were then they wouldn't be in a position to get tear gassed in the first place.

  15. Police fired expired tear gas of upto 5yrs old in Nepal ….. it's was fired at the front door of my house . It's really really painful

  16. Our only remedy to not agree or consent is to protest, silence in law is agreement, but then people aren't allowed to protest? Undemocratic

  17. The last question she says listen to your Political demands or get tear gassed you? That is not what you we’re talking about in the video, those were protestors and rioting these are not the same thing, people can actually hurt in these things so it needs to have a backup in case it’s turns ugly.

  18. All futuristic crowd control weapon are tested on Palestinian people. Israel is the biggest violator of human rights. #BDS

  19. Didn’t know tear gas was banned in war. I remember when I was in the US Army I had go through a “gas chamber” as part of my basic training. That stuff burns like hell! Interesting fact: a very small number of people are not affected by tear gas. When my unit went through the gas chamber one soldier was not really affected by it. The drill sergeants said every now and then they get someone who is immune or less affected by the gas. Something about genetics or something like that…

  20. LiberalResistance: What, are you thinking of opening a T.S. shop?
    politicalSecretPOL : Already more of those in H.K. more than KFC . Even with all the liberal resistance around here, the margins are too low.






  21. Tear gas is awful. But I don't see the end game exposing the companies who make it. It's good to know, and we should know, and definately know what's in the stuff, but the problem's government, not the tear gas.

  22. Control tear gas sales control? Are they encouraging live ammunition he used instead?
    These control measures are worse than playing with fire in a metaphorical sense.
    How about regulations on cable ties sales as well?

  23. WOW. The ignorance of the closing statement, does this white liberal woman live that sheltered of a life? Holy crap some people dont know how the world really works. Yes, lets the Missouri protestors, Hong Kong Protestors, Chile, Paris, Iran protestors all sit and kumbaya with their governments.

  24. hk protesters are being paid thousands a week for "protesting". once i found out that they were all in it for the money and were being peer-pressured, i've dropped all support or respect for them

  25. Tears gas is pretty rough. I got exposed to CS gas at a riot police demonstration. The convention was interesting, I never knew how much equipment S.W.A.T. used. I lasted about 5-8 minutes before I was pulled from the gas chamber. Most of the people in the room with me lasted 1-2 minutes. The trick I used was simple. Control your breathing as much as possible. I normally run in very cold weather. The cold air hurts a lot. So I intake the minimal amount of air I need for relevant performance. We only had to stand there. I know in the military's basic training they make you do exercise. Hats off to all our service members. Dealing with that gas sucks.

  26. It shouldn't take much background in (wave) physics to recognize that sonic cannons, loud stun grenades, and other weaponized uses of the pressure waves we call "sound" cause brain injury similar to any other form of concussion. That is what "stuns" the target: sound-induced concussion, or, better: percussive brain injury. There are also signs and symptoms of percussive gut injury and, very likely, cardiac injury as well. These are not benign.

  27. you mentioned all tear gas used in the world except the horrific way it was used in Iraq in the last 3 months against peaceful protesters with demands similar to the people of Hong Kong…

  28. Tear gas and rubber bullets was used in Assam. We are protesting peacefully against #CAA and continue to protest against #CAA.

  29. Gotta love libs and Democrats they think you can always just talk you’re problems out? Umm people rioting out of control why not use tear gas?

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