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Riot gun has long been a synonym for a shotgun, especially a short-barrelled shotgun. During the 19th and early 20th century, these were used to disperse rioters and revolutionaries. The wide spray of the shot ensured a large group would be hit, but the light shot would ensure more wounds than fatalities. When the ground was paved, police officers would often ricochet the shot off the ground, slowing down the shot and spreading pattern even further. To this day specialized police and defensive shotguns are called riot shotguns. The introduction of rubber bullets and bean bag rounds ended the practice of using shot for the most part, but riot shotguns are still used to fire a variety of less lethal rounds for riot control.
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