Defensive ball launchers are weapons designed to defend against an attacker by firing a malleable rubber bullet on impact. Flash Ball is a model of a defensive ball launcher and the term has taken on a common meaning when referring to any brand of defensive ball throwers. One unit costs about 500 euros. The weapon generally has two guns to scale the riposte. It is a very handy weapon that can be used by left-handed as well as right-handed people. Flash Ball guns tend to used a few meters away from the aggressor and is precise and effective up to about ten meters. If the shot is fired from a close range, the risk of injury increases, however, this is not the purpose of this weapon designed to deter and counter by K.O. without endangering life. Since 2009, the introduction of the 40x46 model has generated strong reactions because it is more powerful than Flash-Ball, as well as the Gomme-Cogne gun, the cousin of Flash-Ball. There are now more than 60,000 Flash Balls on the market and their use is increasing: 1500 times in 2015, 2000 to 3000 times in 2016. In addition, the Alsetex factory has received an outstanding order for Flash Ball guns, amounting to 115,000 bullets per year for the coming years. This brings the average number of shots fired to 315 per day over a year.
In order to purchase a Flash Ball, a customer must meet three conditions: the provision of a medical certificate which is less than 15 days old and a photocopy of their identity card as well as being of legal age. 4000 Flash Balls are produced each year in France by the largest French manufacturer, 20% of which is for sale in France, which represents 860,000 euros.
The French market is divided between two manufacturers: Verney-Carron, based in Saint Etienne, and Brugger & Thomet, based near Bern in Switzerland. Both companies are oriented towards top-of-the-range and innovation in keeping with tradition. Both provide products for law enforcement. Founded in 1991, Brugger & Thomet is relatively small and young, employing about 50 people. Whereas, Verney-Carron, which employs about 100 people, has been in existence since 1820 and acquired Demas in 2004. Vernay-Carron is investing in the security sector because the market for hunting weapons is slowing down. Brugger & Thomet, on the other hand, provides the armed forces with equipment and training.
Legislation evidently has a strong impact on this market since any change in the conditions of ownership of this type of weapon can influence sales, however, the large part of the production sold abroad (80% for the Flash Ball sales by Verney-Carron) can counter a possible restriction in the French market as long as the export rules in force do not become an obstacle.
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