‘Ungun’ being marketed to law enforcement and consumers in Kansas City

Published: Dec. 22, 2021 at 11:27 AM CST
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KANSAS CITY, Mo. (KCTV) -- Kansas City is a target market for a newer weapon that offers a less lethal option than a traditional handgun.

It’s being marketed on billboards and demonstrations are taking place to several sheriff’s departments in both Missouri and Kansas.

It’s called Byrna. It promises to stop power and incapacitation without death.


What is Byrna?

Byrna looks like a gun. You pull a trigger just like you would with a traditional firearm.

However, the company considers it a “launcher” because there are no bullets. The projectiles are plastic balls or balls packed with pepper and tear gas. The delivery mechanism involves CO2 cartridges.

The CEO explained the design was intentional and the form acts as a deterrent.

“This is not a gun. We, in fact, we call it the un-gun. We discovered that there were a lot of other gun owners, like myself, that wanted a non-lethal option,” said Byrna CEO Bryan Ganz.

Ganz says Byrna reaches people who aren’t comfortable with a gun in their house but want personal protection.

The company points out it’s available instantly without a background check.

There are no shipping or ownership restrictions in Missouri or Kansas.

Kansas City is one of 5 markets being targeted by the company.

Byrna marketing target areas.
Byrna marketing target areas.(KCTV5)

It’s offered in a range of colors including solid black which then looks similar to a Glock.

JOCO Sheriff will field test

The Johnson County Sheriff’s department will soon field test Byrnas inside the detention center.

They’ve selected a bright orange.

“I want us as a professional law enforcement agency to do the right thing. And when possible, that is absolutely using less than deadly force,” said Major John Lafferty. “I don’t want deadly force to be the first thing we go to. Nobody wants that. Nobody on either side of that wants that to happen.”

Lafferty says if field testing goes well, the sheriff’s department might add Byrnas in the field with deputies.

Lafferty says he was impressed with the distance Byrna can used up to 60 feet. Many non-lethal and less-lethal options, like Tasers and sprays, require a closer distance.

Lafferty cautioned demonstrations differ from practical use but he’s completely sold on the idea of law enforcement using less-lethal tools.

“I mean, if my kid was involved with something, I would want the police agency to be reasonable in their application. It’s just the right thing to do that you would have another option than a firearm,” said Major John Lafferty.

Consumers are the real target

Consumers appear to be the real target for Byrna Technologies. It’s a publicly-traded company that struggled with sales to law enforcement. The CEO explained sales doubled once they shifted the marketing focus to civilians.

However, the website clarifies restrictions in some states including New York, Wisconsin, Michigan and California.

Byrna restrictions
Byrna restrictions(KCTV5)

KCTV5 tested Byrna at Frontier Justice with owner Bren Brown.

The launcher is easy to use and has no recoil.

Bren is so sold on the product she’s helping the company design a more compact version for smaller hands. She referred to the Byrna as a “game-changer.”

“So, I really believe in every American’s right to protect themselves. And this is a great alternative for men and women who either can’t own a firearm or just don’t want to for some reason they still have the same protective ability that a firearm gives you,” Bren Brown said.

KCTV5 only tested Byrna with targets.

Videos on youtube show demonstrations where people are hit with either plastic or max projectiles.

Those showed serious welts and people doubled over and wheezing and gagging from pepper-tear gas projectiles.

The Kansas City Police Department cautioned those carrying anything that looks like a gun to properly identify it as something different.

“Any fake or non-lethal gun can be mistaken for a real gun. If a fake gun looks real, and there are no markings to indicate otherwise, police and citizens can only assume it is a real gun capable of lethal force.

We would advise people to not show or display imitation guns in public. At the very least, owners of fake guns should make sure they are marked with bright colors particularly on the muzzle end.”

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