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"Bureaucracies hide their mistakes, because people's careers are tied to those mistakes. Therefore, bureaucracies are a perfect mechanism for perpetuating mistakes."
- Frank Herbert

Beam-Pistol  
  A handheld ray gun.  

Then quietly the TSS man slipped out of his cabin, his hand resting on the hilt of his beam-pistol.

"Stop or I'll fire!" Crane warned. And when the shadow did not pause, the TSS man pulled the trigger of his beam gun.

The thin white beam from his pistol knifed the darkness of the cabin and struck the shadowy, indistinct form of his opponent squarely.

Yet the killer came on! Crane fired his beam again...

Crane was stupefied by the failure of his beams - which should have killed any living thing at this close range - to halt the killer...

From Murder in the Void, by Edmond Hamilton.
Published by Thrilling Wonder Stories in 1938
Additional resources -

Compare to the blaster (1925) by Nictzin Dyalhis and the pencil heat ray from Brigands of the Moon (1930) by Ray Cummings.

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from Murder in the Void
  More Ideas and Technology by Edmond Hamilton
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  Tech news articles related to works by Edmond Hamilton

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