In case you missed this story (which isn’t exactly “political” in nature), billionaire inventor and SpaceX founder Elon Musk was selling some hats online. He made a joke on Twitter at one point saying that if they managed to sell fifty thousand of them he would have one of his other corporations, the Boring Company, sell 20,000 flamethrowers which they had recently developed. As you might have guessed, the hats sold out and, good to his word, Musk offered up the flamethrowers for $500 each, even though they apparently weren’t actually in production yet, so you’d have to pre-order them and wait.
This news leads to one obvious question. What sort of room temperature IQ sap would think that they actually need a flamethrower and, perhaps more to the point, would lay out half a grand to buy one? Would anyone actually go for this?
MANDATORY DISCLOSURE STATEMENT: Salem Media publishing protocols require the disclosure of the fact that the author and his wife ordered one of these flamethrowers from the Boring Company on the night the offer was announced. (End Disclosure)
To answer the previous question… yes. Not only did people order them, but they sold out the entire offer in less than five days. That’s right… Elon Musk sold $10M worth of flamethrowers which didn’t even exist yet in roughly 100 hours. But now he may be facing some problems in making good on the deal. Some fire experts (remind me later to find out how one becomes a “fire expert”) are claiming that this is not a fit product to be offering to the general public. In fact, the crazy people who buy these items might wind up starting a, um… fire. (Ya think?) This is particularly a concern in California. (CBS Los Angeles)
As KCAL9/CBS2’s Michele Gile reports, the decision is coming under fire from local fire experts.
“When people have a product like this I’m sure that they don’t intend on burning anyone or anything or destroying any property with it,” says Orange County Fire Authority Capt. Larry Kurtz. “But unfortunately accidents do happen and with a product that’s so easily transportable and creates a two-foot length flame, it’s only a matter of time until we really have a tragedy unfortunately that’s going to unfold here.”
According to Kurtz, there is nothing illegal in California about owning a flamethrower, as long as the flame that shoots out is less than 10 feet.
So thus far this is just a warning from the experts. As noted, it’s technically legal to buy a flamethrower in California if it shoots a flame of less than ten feet. (Who knew?) But this is California we’re talking about, so obviously some wet blanket legislator was going to propose a new law to ban it. That took less than a day to happen. Musk, for his part, insisted that he was complying with the law and this is perfectly harmless.
ATF says any flamethrower with a flame shorter than 10 ft is A-ok. Our design is max fun for least danger. I’d be way more scared of a steak knife.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) January 28, 2018
Sadly, it’s not just a fear of wildfires, house fires or other accidents which are plaguing Musk. If you stop and think about it, there’s really only one completely valid reason to want a device like this, right? I’m speaking, of course, about the coming zombie apocalypse. When the zombies show up, you don’t always have enough shotgun shells, so you’re going to want a good flamethrower. At least that’s why I ordered mine. But now we learn from yet another scientist that the flamethrower won’t even work for that.
I just want to go on record AS A SCIENTIST:#Flamethrowers are not an effective #zombie defense. They're still going to be attacking, but now they're also on fire. Your situation has not improved. pic.twitter.com/hH5JmpnyNN
— c0nc0rdance (@c0nc0rdance) January 28, 2018
That’s a real disappointment. And at this point I don’t think I can even get a refund. But who am I kidding? It’s still a flamethrower. Maybe it’s just the 14 year old boy still living in the back of my brain, but… who wouldn’t want a freaking flamethrower?!?
Is it too dangerous? Judge for yourself. You can see the actual device in operation in this video from CNBC.
Somehow the distance the flame shoots out does seem to be fairly limited. That means that if it doesn’t actually work on zombies it will be too late to try anything else. But it definitely looks hot enough to catch something on fire. Assuming the zombies don’t arrive before the flamethrower does (and that I still have a house which is not converted to a smoking ruin) I’ll see if I can’t get some video of me trying it out and report back to you. Wish me luck.