Laser guns, once the fodder of science fiction, are now a reality in China, according to a report in the South China Morning Post.
The ZKZM-500 laser assault rifle, while classified as a nonlethal weapon, can strike a target from a half-mile away, causing “instant carbonization of human skin and tissue,” the Post reported.
The weapon produces a silent, invisible “energy beam” that cannot be seen with the naked eye, but can pass through windows and is “able to burn through clothes in a split second” and set a person on fire, according to the newspaper.
The gun is described as a box-shaped assault-style weapon that looks more like a toy gun than a sleek “Star Wars” blaster, Live Science reported. It’s a 15 mm caliber gun that weighs more than 6.5 pounds and could be mounted on cars, boats or planes. It’s powered by rechargeable lithium batteries and can shoot more than 1,000 laser shots, lasting about 2 seconds each, according to the Post.
The laser could be used to set banners on fire during protests the government deems to be illegal. It could also be used in covert military operations or in the event of a hostage situation, according to Chinese authorities.