While a flamethrower may not seem like an expected product from the CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, Elon Musk has already made millions by selling a small version of a flame thrower largely intended as a cool toy.
Elon Musk’s Flamethrower
Last Saturday, Elon Musk stated that he was going to sell the flamethrower for $500 in order to raise money for his tunnel-digging business, the Boring Company. Gizmodo reports that a spokesperson for the company said that Elon Musk had already sold 15000 flamethrowers – amounting to a cool $7.5 million in sales.
According to Gizmodo, flamethrowers are legal in every state except Maryland, while California requires a State Fire Marshal permit for flamethrowing devices that “propel a burning stream of combustible or flammable liquid a distance of at least 10 feet.” The flamethrower developed by Elon Musk, however, only shoots a couple of feet, making it legal for use in the state.
The Flamethrower Controversy
However, there’s been a little bit of controversy lately after a tweet from a California politician expressing that the regulation in the state is not enough. Assemblymember Miguel Santiago of Los Angeles tweeted that “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 then tweeted out a press release that explained his plans to introduce new legislation that would block the sale of the device. Included in the memo was a quote that praised Musk while criticizing his recent action.
“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.”
It’s important to keep in mind that the flamethrower from Musk only propels flames a few feet, and as such is a far cry from “military grade tanks and armor-piercing ammunition.” It may be understandable that Santiago is hesitant regarding the sales of a flame-producing “weapons” in a state that was recently ravaged by wildfire, but considering the limited impact of Elon Musk’s flamethrowers, it’s probably not as big of a deal as the assemblymember seems to think it will be.
However, there’s definitely a chance that Musk’s flamethrowers will get into the hands of careless individuals and cause some issues. With 15000 sold and a goal of 20000 units total, there’s a flame-producing tool in the hands of thousands of people with a relatively low financial barrier to entry. While it’s certainly possible to buy a more dangerous flamethrower off of Amazon, the fact remains that Elon Musk’s activities garner a lot of attention from the general population – and a large portion of the goal has already been met less than a week after the initial launch of the product.
Gizmodo reached out to the Boring Company seeking a response to the assembly member’s plan to ban flamethrowers in California, and Elon Musk’s organization seemed unphased by the plans to legislate.
“The Boring Company flamethrower is safer than what you can buy right now off-the-shelf on Amazon to destroy weeds…Like a rollercoaster, this is designed to be thrilling without danger. Dangerous flamethrowers are already regulated and require a permit to own in California.
As far as public support goes for Santiago’s plans, the majority of people seem to be making fun of his outrage. It seems as if more people want to get their hands on a flamethrower than there are people concerned about the impact that this small stream of fire might have on the wildfire situation in California, for better or for worse. While people likely don’t have much to be concerned about regarding Elon musk’s flamethrower, we suppose there’s still a potential for it to cause problems.