gun turns tears into bullets
Julie Hambleton
Julie Hambleton
November 10, 2020 ·  2 min read

Graduate Creates Gun That Turns Tears Into Bullets

We all know that tears can sometimes be used as a tool to emotionally manipulate, but what about a physical weapon? It’s something that has only been done once. In 2016 a student in the Netherlands built a gun that turns tears into bullets. (1)

The Gun that Turns Tears Into Bullets

Now before anyone gets all up in arms, the gun is not a dangerous one. In fact, it really can’t hurt anyone at all. The creativity behind the design, however, is fascinating.

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The Inspiration

Tawainese student Yi-Fei Chen was having a hard time while studying abroad at the Design Academy Eindhoven in The Netherlands. Professors were continuing to pile work on her with unrealistic deadlines that she was finding impossible to keep up with. (1)

Whereas the Dutch students knew to speak up in these cases to their teachers, in Taiwan this is culturally unacceptable. Professors kept asking more and more of her until she reached a point that she couldn’t possibly handle.

“The difficulties living as a foreigner in another country lead to high pressures in the study environment,” she said. “Those pressures had been building for 18 months before finally reaching a crisis point during one of my midterm presentations.” (1)

One of her professors began scolding her during a presentation, saying that she was unprepared. A fellow student then stood up for Chen to the professor, causing her to become overwhelmed with emotions.

“I was too emotional to control myself, I could not hold my tears so I cried,” she said. “I turned my back to the others, because I did not want people to see me crying.” (1)

This struggle to speak her mind is what sparked the idea for her graduate project: The gun that turns tears into bullets.

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How the Gun Turns Tears Into Bullets

The gun itself is actually quite attractive to look at, made of brass, silicone, and plastic. It works as follow (1):

  1. The user wears a mask with a silicone cup placed just under the eye that catches their tears.
  2. The tears flow into a bottle where they are frozen.
  3. The frozen tears are loaded into an attached gun where they can be fired.

The gun was put on display at the 2016 Dutch Design Week. The best part, however, is that Chen was allowed to fire her tear gun at the same professor that made her cry on stage at her graduation.

As already mentioned, the gun is harmless. There are no plans to make the gun somehow more powerful or in any way able to cause actual damage. At its core, you could consider this to be art and is meant to be a tangible metaphor.