NewsNation: "Less-lethal guns offer alternative to traditional firearms"

From NewsNation:

An entrepreneur from Boston is hoping to change self-defense and give people less-lethal options to protect themselves.

That’s why Bryan Ganz created the Byrna Launcher, a less-lethal self-defense tool.

“It looks like a gun. It operates like a gun. It feels like a gun,” he said. “It simply doesn’t kill people like a gun.”

Byrna’s manufacturing plant is in America’s heartland. The tool is made every day, by hand, in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Ganz told NewsNation he is committed to using people to create the products.

“We’re proud to be an American company,” he said.

There are multiple models of the Byrna available, modeled after traditional firearms. The Byrna pistol is designed to resemble Ganz’s Glock, which starts at $379.

For a few hundred more, a less-lethal rifle offers higher power and a longer range.

“This is a paintball gun on steroids,” Ganz said.

Instead of paintballs, projectiles replace real bullets. Some are hard and they hurt. Others are designed to incapacitate in a single shot with pepper spray and tear gas, burning your throat and making it hard to breathe for up to 40 minutes.

It’s meant to give the user time to get away.

A demonstration video shows the weapon in action as two pitbulls approach a father and his young daughter. He uses a Byrna launcher to scare them away.

As people are worried about crime, they are also looking for ways to protect themselves, from surveillance video to pepper spray.

“There’s been a fraying of the social fabric in America. There’s been rising crime,” Ganz said. “People want some way to protect themselves.”

Ganz admits his company is leaning into that fear of crime.

So far, it’s working. The company started in 2019 and in the last year, sales jumped 100%. The Mission Four rifle is currently sold out and other launchers have a two-week waiting list.

NewsNation’s Marni Hughes had an opportunity to try the Byrna Launcher to see how it compares to a real firearm.

Critics of Byrna’s less-lethal launchers are quick to point out a potential flaw, asking what would happen if someone with a launcher were confronted by someone with a real gun.

Ganz disagrees with those critics.

“The interesting thing is in most cases, people will pull out the Byrna launcher and they won’t need to fire,” he said. “Just pulling it out and pointing it at somebody is enough to make the assailant back off and turn around.”

Ganz said while the launcher wasn’t created for police, he’s had positive feedback from law enforcement, and now the company partners with law enforcement agencies across the globe.

In the U.S., the company has deals with more than 300 agencies, from police departments to security companies, and even the Army and Navy.

“We’re certainly never recommending to replace a lethal firearm, this is just another point on the continuum of force,” Ganz said.

The company is also looking to partner with gun manufacturers, even though it would mean giving up a piece of the market. Ganz noted less-lethal weapons could serve as an entry point to firearms for people who have never owned a gun before.

For Ganz, the Byrna launcher has always been about offering another option to traditional firearms. But it’s also a personal issue for the father of three.

“My wife died many years ago,” Ganz said. “I was a single dad of three daughters. Nothing focuses your attention on safety like being a single dad of three daughters.”

The product, he said, has proven successful with people who already use guns as well as those who haven’t.

“We are resonating with gun owners like myself who want a non-lethal alternative because not every situation should involve life or death,” he said. “But it also resonates with people that are not gun owners but want some way to protect themselves in this crazy world that we live in.”

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