On the heels of the shooting at Sandy Hook back in 2012, the gun control debate in America reached a fever pitch. Of course all of the attention and subsequent lawmaker scrutiny had the predictable effect of boosting demand for firearms, as many feared their Second Amendment rights were soon to be curtailed.
Gun control was back in the national spotlight last month, after the tragic massacre at an African American church in Charleston, and no sooner had that begun to fade from America’s collective memory than we witnessed yet another shooting, this time in a movie theatre in Louisiana.
Then, on Wednesday morning, a "disgruntled" newsman filmed himself shooting and killing a cameraman and another reporter then posted the shocking video on both Twitter and Facebook. The shooter was African American and cited the Charleston shootings as a motive. Obviously, this means it’s only a matter of days (or hours) before the gun control debate kicks into hyperdrive, sparking further fears of federal firearm confiscation.
And while it’s semi automatic handguns and assault rifles that have been at the center of the debate thus far, there’s another type of weapon that, although currently legal, may come under scrutiny soon, which is leaving some enthusiasts "fired up" so to speak, about getting in before regulations close the market: flamethrowers.
Here’s more from arstechnica:
In the wake of two companies now selling the first commercially available flamethrowers in the United States, at least one mayor has called for increased restrictions on their use. And to no one's surprise, the prospect of prohibition has now driven more sales.
"Business is skyrocketing higher than ever due to the discussion on prohibition," Chris Byars, the CEO of the Ion Productions Team based in Troy, Michigan, told Ars by e-mail.
"I’m a huge supporter of personal freedom and personal responsibility. Own whatever you like, unless you use it in a manner that is harmful to another or other’s property. We’ve received a large amount of support from police, fire, our customers, and interested parties regarding keeping them legal."
Yes, support from "police" and "fire," which is both disturbing and odd all at once given that, respectively i) no one wants to confront a trigger happy police officer wielding a flamethrower and, ii) traditionally, firemen are in the business of extinguising fires, not starting them.
In any event, back to arstechnica:
Byars added that the company has sold 350 units at $900 each, including shipping, in recent weeks. That's in addition to the $150,000 the company raised on IndieGoGo.
The Ion product, known as the XM42, can shoot fire over 25 feet and has more than 35 seconds of burn time per tank of fuel. With a full tank of fuel, it weighs just 10 pounds.
Another company—XMatter, based in Cleveland, Ohio—sells a similar device for $1,600 each, but it weighs 50 pounds. However, this device has approximately double the range of the XM42. Quinn Whitehead, the company’s co-founder, did not immediately respond to Ars’ request for comment.
Why does one need a handheld flamethrower, you ask? Here are some "ideas" from the Ion Productions' official XM42 website:
- start your bonfire from across the yard
- kill the weeds between your cracks in style
- clearing snow/ice
- controlled burns/ground-clearing of foliage/agricultural
- insect control
As Ion goes on to point out (correctly, we might add), there are "endless possibilities for entertainment and utility."
And don't worry all you lefties out there, in the FAQ section the answer to the question "Is there a left handed model?" is emphatically "yes."
Amusingly, flamethrowers - which, on a literal interpretation, would seem to be the very definition of the term "fire-arm" - are not actually counted as such by the ATF:
"These devices are not regulated as they do not qualify as firearms under the National Firearms Act," Corey Ray, a spokesman with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, told Ars by e-mail.
Asked what the point of building and selling flamethrowers is, Byars said simply: "It’s awesome."
Meanwhile, Warren, Michigan Mayor Jim Fouts isn’t so sure and because we like to encourage people to decide for themselves on the merits of contentious issues, we’ll close with the following rather amusingly deadpan bit from Fouts, explaining his position, and leave it to readers to discuss:
"My concern is that flamethrowers in the wrong hands could cause catastrophic damage either to the person who is using it or more likely to the person who is being targeted. This is a pretty dangerous mix because it's a combination of butane and gasoline which is highly flammable. Anybody who aims this at someone else or something happens and it happens close to them is going to be close to be incinerated."
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