Muzzle Blast Round Injures woman at Quebec City anti-austerity protests
A young woman, Naomi Tremblay-Trudeau, was injured by a tear gas round fired at almost point blank range during anti-austerity protests in Quebec City on March 26, 2015. Naomi suffered a blunt trauma injury to her lower lip, which caused bruising and swelling.
Many people across the country are outraged that Quebec City riot cops fired the round at such extreme range, with some confusing the type of round fired as being a tear gas canister. While the headlines of the protester being shot with a tear gas round are technically correct, the round was most likely not an actual canister.
If it wasn’t a tear gas canister, then what was it? It was most likely a “muzzle blast” round, also known as a chemical dispersal round. It fires either pepper spray (OC) or tear gas (CS) in a cloud. There is no canister that is launched, but there is a small cardboard disc that is used to hold the chemical agent inside the round. This is probably the projectile that struck the woman in the lower face (and in photos you can see the circular shape the disc left on her skin). If it had been an actual tear gas canister her injuries would have been far more severe.
There are many manufacturers of the muzzle blast round and it is quickly becoming one of the most commonly fired types of “less-lethal” rounds used by police during crowd control operations. Manufacturers claim an effective range up to 30 feet.
The first widespread use of this round in Canada was during the Toronto G20 protests in June, 2010. During the actions in the streets, police repeatedly fired muzzle blasts at close range into crowds and against individuals.
Until the Toronto G20, rounds fired from less-lethal launchers were projectiles, either rubber/plastic bullets or pellets, or tear gas canisters. These rounds caused serious injuries, and people have lost eyes, gone into comas, and even died after being struck with these types of projectiles.
Police probably thought they had solved the problem of firing projectiles into crowds with the muzzle blast, but as the case from Quebec City shows, even muzzle blast rounds can cause serious injuries (ie, if the disc had hit her in an eye). Hopefully the fallout from this incident will see much more restricted use of this weapon in the future, or else it is highly likely that along with pepper spray, the muzzle blast round will be an increasingly common option for police to use during crowd control operations.
For protection against muzzle blast rounds, safety goggles should be worn at a minimum (which also helps defend against pepper spray and projectiles).
For more info on chemical agents, less-lethal weaponry, and ways to defend yourself, check out Defend the Territory; Tactics and Techniques for Countering Police Assaults on Indigenous Communities:
Posted on March 27, 2015, in Uncategorized and tagged Defend the Territory, less-lethal weapon, muzzle blast round, police crowd control, protest tactics, Quebec City Police, Quebec City protests. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.