The New York State Senate has passed a bill banning possession of flamethrowers, classifying the objects as weapons of the fourth degree. The move comes in response to a merchandise promotion by Elon Musk’s Boring Company, wherein flamethrowers sporting the tunneling operation’s logo were sold for $500 each during a limited run of 20,000 units. To avoid issues with customs agencies, the devices were renamed to Not-A-Flamethrower; however, it’s not likely the naming convention will have much effect on legislation.
“Elon Musk’s Boring Company released a new flamethrower which sold out of all 20,000 within days, without any concern to the training of the purchasers or their reasons for buying. Allowing the general public to access this type of machine is extremely problematic; some commercial flamethrowers can project flames up to twenty feet from the user,” a memo written by the bill’s sponsor stated.
While certain types of flamethrowers could certainly become a major hazard without proper training, such as the XM42-M that’s capable of shooting flames up to 30 feet, it’s important to note that the Boring Co. Not-a-Flamethrower is more of an oversized butane torch. Its functionality is very similar to weed killers that can be bought at hardware stores. The terms and conditions for the device are also drawn to concerns over safety, although uniquely phrased:
I will not use this in a house
I will not point this at my spouse
I will not use this in an unsafe way
The best use is creme brulee…
… and that exhausts our rhyming ability.
Also mentioned in the terms and conditions was a disclaimer noting that The Boring Company would not be responsible for anything “genius or stupid” that owners of the Not-a-Flamethrowers might do. A fire extinguisher was additionally included with purchases.
Certain exemptions would apply to New York’s ban, such as for flamethrowers built before 1966 and commercial agriculture and construction uses for the devices. The bill will now move to the state assembly for further consideration and a vote.
This isn’t the first time Not-A-Flamethrower has run up against legal troubles. In California, LA Assemblymember Miguel Santiago authored AB-1949, aka the “Flamethrower Bill”, which called for a pyrotechnic license and severe penalties for illegal use of possession of a flamethrowing device. The bill was amended down to only a simple warning label requirement before being permanently stalled by the state legislature.