Shoot to thrill: City company makes guns to stun, not kill people

Barry Lamperd demonstrates a grenade launcher designed and made in Sarnia by Lamperd Less Lethal. Glenn Ogilvie

Barry Lamperd swings a grenade launcher to his shoulder, aims and fires.

The cloud of tear gas would disperse a rowdy crowd had it been live. But this is a demonstration so talcum powder drifts harmlessly to the parking lot, filling the air with the scent of babies.

The gun was designed and manufactured entirely in Sarnia, and the first 250 of them have already been delivered to Corrections Canada for inmate containment and control.

Lamperd Less Lethal Inc. plans to produce about 5,000 this year, says its owner.

“As things get worse around the world, we get busier,” Lamperd said.

The contract is another feather in the cap for the civil defence equipment company, which markets its wares to police, military and private security in North America and beyond.

From rubber bullets and riot shields to guns and batons, Sarnia-made products are now being used in 60 NATO-friendly countries.

So long as a country is on Ottawa’s “nice list” and meets all the security requirements, it’s free to talk to Lamperd about its public order and riot control needs.

For example, a shipment of backpacks that carry pepper spray for crowd control is en route to Malaysia. And shortly before The Journal toured the production and training centre in south Sarnia a delegation from Turkey’s “homeland security” paid a call.

Lamperd and TREL machining, its neighbour and business partner, together employ about 50 people.

It’s success stems from products like the Defender 1, a less-lethal handgun that delivers a knockdown blow from 40 feet, as well as pepper spray and “marking” rounds. Marking rounds are folded rubber projectiles packed into shells that inflict identifying welts on troublemakers without slaying them.

“Unlike Tasers, we have a long history of not killing anyone,” Lamperd says.

Another core product is the Defender II, a shoulder-fired gun with a five-round revolver action that disables, but temporarily.

The manufacturer has been operating in Sarnia under various names since 1969 and is the only facility of its kind in Canada, says Lamperd, while pointing out injection molds for rubber bullets.

“We’re pretty unique because we build everything right here.”

– George Mathewson