Elon Musk has already made millions selling a really small flamethrower (which is actually just a really big blow torch), but one incensed California assemblymember wants to put a stop to sales in his state.
On Saturday, Musk announced he was selling the $500 flame-sputterers, which are a fundraising merchandise for his tunnel-digging business, The Boring Company. A spokesperson for the company told Gizmodo that as of this morning, it has sold 15,000 “flamethrowers”—$7.5 million’s worth.
Flamethrowers are legal in every state but Maryland—where they are banned—and California, where they can be purchased with a State Fire Marshall permit. But the California restriction only applies to “flamethrowing devices” that “propel a burning stream of combustible or flammable liquid a distance of at least 10 feet.”
One California politician believes that regulation isn’t enough and he is outraged that Musk is selling an extended-reach torch—outraged!
Assemblymember Miguel Santiago of Los Angeles took to Twitter to vent his anger: “If this is real, I’m outraged and you should be too. If this is a joke, then it’s a terribly insensitive one given that we’re coming off of the worst wildfire season in history. Either way: NOT FUNNY. NOT GONNA HAPPEN.”
Santiago tweeted out a press release explaining that he plans to introduce legislation that will block the sale of the device. The memo includes a strange quote in which Santiago praises Musk and quotes Spider-Man:
Like most Americans, I am in awe of Mr. Musk’s genius—the brains behind Tesla, Paypal, Solar City, and SpaceX... But as President Truman and Stan Lee have taught us all, “With great power comes great responsibility... There are many times in which technology and inventions benefit society, but are not made available to the public. we don’t allow people to walk in off the street and purchase military grade tanks or armor-piercing ammunition.
Except, Musk’s weird swag is a far cry from military-grade tanks. It’s more like a toy dragon or a giant crème brûlée torch.
But yes, fires are dangerous and most wildfires start with acts of human carelessness, like unattended campfires, fireworks, burning debris, and discarded cigarettes. Musk apparently plans to sell 20 thousand of his “flamethrowers” and there’s a very strong chance that many of the new owners will be careless and use them for really, really dumb things. And that’s why the California Professional Firefighters support Santiago’s plan to ban the sale of Musk’s torches in the state, according to Santiago’s release.
Musk’s company seems unperturbed by the assemblymember’s efforts. “The Boring Company flamethrower is safer than what you can buy right now off-the-shelf on Amazon to destroy weeds,” a company spokesperson told Gizmodo. “Like a rollercoaster, this is designed to be thrilling without danger. Dangerous flamethrowers are already regulated and require a permit to own in California.”
Many of the responses to Santiago’s tweets about his desire to ban Musk’s device seem to be mocking him. Curiously, the politician has retweeted a couple of them, including one tweet stating that you can buy a power torch with a similar range as Musk’s on Amazon. And one tweet with a GIF of Hank Scorpio, evil genius of The Simpsons, blasting a flamethrower and laughing maniacally.