By 7:30 on Thursday morning, the capacious ground-floor convention center of the Oakland Marriott was filled with SWAT teams. Mostly men, mostly white, dressed in camouflage or black fatigues, they stood in groups of eight or ten, some eating pastries, others sticking to coffee and a dip of tobacco. A few wandered the expo hall, stopping by booths to test the feel of armored vests, boot knives, and sniper rifles, grab swag like grenade-shaped stress balls, or drop tickets into a box for a raffle of iPhone covers and pistols.

“Want to see the new toy?” a vendor asked a police officer in camo. He handed him a pamphlet for his company, Shield Defense Systems. “This will blind anyone for 10 minutes. Imagine, walk into a bar fight, blind everyone, then figure out what’s going on. Some guys on drugs, you can put three slugs in their chest and it won’t stop them. But blind him, and I guarantee you he’ll calm down.” The device attached to a gun and sent out a frequency that the vendor said temporarily scrambled its target’s ocular fluid. The vendor turned to me—conspicuous for my lack of fatigues—and insisted the device caused no permanent damage (hence the name Z-Ro, as in “zero damage”), though he said it would probably make you nauseous. He expected it to be on the market this coming January. [Read more] – Michael’s Blog