April 1st, 2011

U.S. Border Patrol Replaces Guns with NLAIM Paint Markers

The U.S. Border Patrol Agency has been ordered to “give up its guns”, starting this summer. In a surprise directive issued this morning, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), parent agency of the Border Patrol, announced that up to one-half of U.S. Border Patrol Agents will be required to turn in their firearms, starting August 1, 2011. The current issue sidearm of the Border Patrol is the HK P2000 LEM in .40 SW, but Agents many also carry rifles and shotguns. Duty Weapons will be replaced by non-lethal dye markers, similar to paintball guns.

Agents to Be Disarmed in Border Areas
Border Patrol NLAIMSpeaking at a Washington, DC press conference, Homeland Security Director Janet Napolitano stated that stripping the Border Patrol of lethal weapons reflects the “long-stated objective of this Adminstration to value human life over all other lesser considerations.” Napolitano stressed that the Border Patrol would not be required to give up all its firearms. The Patrol would still maintain pistols, rifles, and shotguns in “secure lock-ups” removed from the “immediate border area”.

The goal of the policy shift, Napolitano stated, is to eliminate the risk of accidental or unintentional injury to “wayward travelers and undocumented citizens”. Napolitano denied that confiscation of Border Patrol Agents’ firearms was a response to “trigger-happy men in green”. Napolitano stated: “I have the greatest faith in our men and women in the Border force”, adding that “we are now giving those Agents viable non-lethal technologies with which they can carry out their duties”.

Firearms Replaced by Non-Lethal Alien Immigrant Marker System (NLAIM)
The technologies cited by Director Napolitano include the new Non-Lethal Alien Immigrant Marker (NLAIM) which will be provided to Border Patrol agents on the “front line”, i.e. those who actively patrol the southern border. The NLAIM is a pneumatic device that propels small, liquid-filled marker balls at effective ranges up to 50 feet. Once released, the liquid inside the balls leaves a highly-visible, long-lasting dye mark on anything it contacts. In addition, the dye marker solution is activated by body heat so it literally “glows in the dark” when viewed through night-vision optics.

Border Patrol NLAIM

Is NLAIM Technology Really Something New?
Border Patrol NLAIMCritics of NLAIM technology claim that NLAIM devices are merely over-priced versions of recreational paintball guns, many of which sell for under $200.00. NLAIMs, which will be provided in both pistol and carbine configurations, cost nearly $2700.00 each, not including transport modules. A total of 10,000 NLAIMs will be delivered to the Border Patrol under a no-bid DHS contract valued at $26.8 million dollars. Some of that cost will be offset by revenues earned from the recycling of current Border Patrol firearms which will be decommissioned, melted down, and sold for scrap.

Chief Border Patrol Agent Randall Sikes (Del Rio Sector) defended the switch from conventional firearms to NLAIMs. Sikes stated that: “Hey, these aren’t just run-of-the-mill paintball guns — I mean these babies are state-of-the-art. Plus you can’t buy our day/night ammo balls in any paintball store. You think glow in the dark capability comes easy? The NLAIM is a sophisticated law enforcement tool, not a toy.”

Sikes also said that the NLAIM lets an Agent respond more effectively than ever before to a border incident. “Look, with a real gun, I mean you can either point it, or shoot it, and we don’t want the latter. The border-crossers we face know we won’t shoot them, so they just run away. At least now we can color-tag them and the choppers can chase ‘em down. We get the job done and no one gets hurt. Plus the NLAIMs are a hoot to shoot. It’s a win-win.”

The United States Border Patrol is a federal law enforcement agency within U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), a component of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Currently, the U.S. Border Patrol employs over 20,200 agents, who are specifically responsible for patrolling the 6,000 miles of Mexican and Canadian international land borders. Agents are assigned primarily to the Mexico–United States border. There are 20 Border Patrol sectors, each headed by a Sector Chief Patrol Agent. Currently, U.S. Customs and Border Protection has more sworn law enforcement officers than any other agency in the U.S. Federal government.

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