Entrepreneur Elon Musk has captured the world’s imagination with his electric cars, space rockets and renewable energy systems, and now the billionaire is looking to corner the market in a slightly less benevolent area: flamethrowers.
Musk, the founder and CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, has recently made headlines with the launch of his company’s Falcon 9 rocket late last year and the impending launch of the Falcon Heavy rocket in February. But besides sending spacecraft into the sky, preparing for the release of the Tesla Semi electric truck and all the other things a genius billionaire businessman does in his day-to-day life, Musk has also launched an actual functional flamethrower for consumers, and he claims he has already sold 10,000 of the $500 weapons.
One of Musk’s newest endeavor is The Boring Co., which aims to quickly dig tunnels while “dropping costs by a factor of 10 or more,” according to its website. Tunnels might sound, well, boring, but the company is linked to Musk’s vision for a rapid-transit Hyperloop system that would use tunnels.
So far, however, The Boring Co. hasn’t been digging as much as it’s been joking. In late 2017, Musk started selling branded caps through the company’s website, raising $1 million from the sale of 50,000 hats. At the time, he made what was thought to be a joke; now it appears to be very real.
And so it has come to pass. Over the weekend, Musk tweeted about the flamethrower several times, including posting an Instagram video of himself using the gun to produce a flame about 2 feet long. The short flame length keeps it from meeting the federal definition of an illegal flamethrower, Musk claimed.
“ATF [the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives] 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,” he tweeted.
In response to a question posed to them online, the Australian Federal Police advised potential buyers to “check with your local police for local laws.”
But it’s nothing but enthusiasm on the Boring Co. site: “World’s safest flamethrower!” the product description reads.
“Before shipping, aspiring flamethrower aficionados will be sent a terms and conditions rhyme for review and acceptance. Starts shipping in spring.”
In more tongue-in-cheek descriptions, the company advises the flamethrower “may not be used on Boring Company decorative lacquered hay bales or Boring Company dockside munitions warehouses” and “fire extinguisher sold separately (for exorbitant amounts of money).”
A $30 “overpriced” fire extinguisher is also available on the website. After tweeting about hitting the 10,000 flamethrower sales mark, Musk added that only 3,000 of its fire extinguishers had been ordered.
“You can definitely buy one for less elsewhere, but this one comes with a cool sticker,” the website said.
A Californian lawmaker isn’t amused, though. He’s criticized Musk’s incendiary new product and has vowed to push for it to be made illegal in the state.
California Assemblyman Miguel Santiago (D-Los Angeles) cited law enforcement and public safety issues.
“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 image the problems a flamethrower would cause firefighters and police officers alike,” he said in a statement tweeted by a Los Angeles Times reporter Monday.