Reader R sent in a link to the #itsabeanbag project , which is promoting arming police with a converted shotgun that fires “less lethal” beanbag rounds.
Here’s an article that explains it pretty well, and also points out the main issue with this conversion program, which is that the shotgun is still a shotgun and can be accidentally loaded with lethal rounds. (In order to prevent this, the gun is converted to have an orange stock and pump handle with the words “Less Lethal” applied to the stock.)
I don’t know if this would have made a difference in Ferguson. I also don’t know if the officers there already had tasers, which are another “less lethal” weapon. My guess is that a panicked officer is going to reach for his gun first rather than trying to haul out a shotgun, especially when he’s sitting in a car. I’ll let y’all hash that out in the comments.