California legislators have failed to pass a bill restricting sales of Tesla owner Elon Musk’s puzzling new product — a recreational flamethrower — following opposition from gun lobbyists.
Musk claims his Boring Co. has sold out of its first batch of 20,000 flamethrowers at $500 a pop. He calls the product “Not a Flamethrower” because it’s nothing like military or heavy-duty commercial flamethrowers used for things like agriculture clearing.
Musk’s new toy, which actually looks like an Airsoft gun, has been described as essentially a propane torch, something like a weed-burner already available in hardware stores. But they are shown in a promo video shooting flames at least 2 feet.
Musk has called them “a super terrible idea” in his own marketing promos. It’s not clear why he is offering them for sale ― possibly simply to raise revenue or brand awareness — or what they will actually be when delivered to customers.
Sales were initially regarded as a prank, but Musk has announced he’ll begin handing them out at “pickup parties” this month because it’s complicated to ship products with propane. The first party is reportedly scheduled for June 9 in Los Angeles, which last year suffered one of its worst fire seasons.
Customers were told in a Snapchat note picked up on Reddit that they could “toast some marshmallows” or prepare to attack zombies.
Democratic state Assemblyman Miguel Santiago of Los Angeles called the flamethrowers “incredibly insensitive, dangerous, and most definitely not funny.”
In his statement, he added: “We don’t allow people to walk in off the street and purchase military grade tanks or armor-piercing ammunition ... I cannot even begin to imagine the problems a flamethrower would cause firefighters and police officers alike.”
In response, Santiago introduced a bill requiring permits for the flamethrowers from the state fire marshal (which is already required for larger flamethrowers). Firefighters backed the bill; gun lobbyists didn’t. The bill didn’t make it out of committee last week.
The Boring Co. is creating a 2.7-mile test tunnel in Los Angeles for a pedestrian transit system. Musk sees it as the first component of a futuristic, super-high-speed Hyperloop system that could one day transport pods of travelers.
Last year the company raised $700,000 selling hats to raise money. Musk promised then that if his Boring Co. sold 50,000 hats, it would begin selling “The Boring Company flamethrower.” (“I know it’s a little off-brand, but kids love it,” he tweeted.)