The use of tear gas during the recent protests surrounding police misconduct in the United States has reignited the debate about the legality of its use on large assemblies. Classified as a "less-lethal weapon," tear gas has become a weapon of choice for law enforcement officers ever since it first emerged during World War I. Today, the less-lethal weapons industry generates billions of dollars each year, and tear gas products reportedly comprise about 25 percent of the entire industry. Although tear gas is illegal in the context of warfare, it remains legal for use by law enforcement for riot control purposes. The legality of its use has been debated for nearly a century. While the debate continues, tear gas continues to be used on protests in the United States and around the world.
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