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Gun shoots DNA bullets, tags suspects for arrest

Posting in Science

SelectaDNA’s High Velocity DNA Tagging System allows law enforcement to shoot suspects with DNA pellets – tagging them for arrest later on.

It’s not possible to stop and arrest every person involved in a riot or when there're looters and crowd control problems, for example. The DNA gun makes it possible to track people down and “apprehended at a less confrontational time for officers,” the U.K.-based company says in a statement.

To clarify, the uniquely-coded DNA pellets don’t do anything to the suspect’s genetic code. It’s just that the synthetic DNA leave a unique marker on a person – something color markers used today can’t do, Ubergizmo explains. Of course, authorities would still have to actually find the suspects later on.

However, all 14 pellets in a pack have the same code. That means you could tag a lot of people at one event, Popular Science explains, but you couldn’t necessarily single him or her out in the crowd – making it hard to tell who may have incited a riot, rather than just taken part.

  • The DNA gun doesn’t deter or disable the suspect, but with a portable UV light scanner, authorities would be able to verify the synthetic DNA mark – allowing for a fairly accurate identification of a person.
  • If the pellets land on skin, their DNA mark will stay there for up to two weeks. (If it lands on clothing, that’s less helpful, but it will still take several washings to remove DNA from the fabric.)
  • The pellets come in rifle or pistol form, both powered by CO2 cartridges.
  • Police and military can remain at a safe distance (around 100 feet) from a potential target.

You can watch a video of shooting practice here. The company also makes DNA grease, gel, and spray to tag personal belongings. Or, it could be used to tag money in a bank heist.

The equipment was unveiled at The SHOT Show in Las Vegas last month.

[Via PopSci]

Image: SelectaDNA

— By on February 7, 2013, 2:42 PM PST

Janet Fang

Contributing Editor

Janet Fang has written for Nature, Discover and the Point Reyes Light. She is currently a lab technician at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. She holds degrees from the University of California, Berkeley and Columbia University. She is based in New York. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure