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"I think we could solve our problems more easily through strength of character; but that's always been a commodity in extremely short supply."
- Gregory Benford

Ray-Pistol  
  An early version of the raygun.  

As far as I know, the earliest use of this phrase.

The pilot I left on his own ship, after disabling the radio so that no further communication could be had with the flag-ship and, at the point of the ray-pistol, I forced the commander to return to the Pioneer with me. Leaving him under the guard of Roy Hamilton, I revisited the enemy ship and made steel cable and telephone connections between it and the Pioneer; I strapped the telephone receiver to the head of the pilot, who was so utterly cowed by the ray-pistol that he obeyed my every order, and returned to my own vessel.
Technovelgy from The War of the Planets, by Harl Vincent.
Published by Amazing Stories in 1929
Additional resources -

Vincent adds more detail, using the same phrase in Tanks Under The Sea (1930):

Chevan had risen from his chair, his face purpling. Quick as a flash his hand shot over the desk top and in it was gripped a slender weapon at sight of which Ongli turned suddenly to flee. But too late. The spiteful crack of the ray pistol coincided with his movement and a sudden flash of light burst forth between his broad shoulders; a splash of flame it seemed to be, searing flame that spread and devoured in an instant. Ongli was no more. Just vanished in a puff of vapor like a punctured gas balloon.

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from The War of the Planets
  More Ideas and Technology by Harl Vincent
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  Tech news articles related to works by Harl Vincent

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