I am resigned to the likelihood that the USA will probably never even consider sane gun control laws. (Just as I’m resigned to the fact that that sentence alone will be enough to make me a GOT’DAM LIBRUL NAZI GUN GRABBER NAZI COMMIE in the eyes of some of Dangerous Minds’ illustrious Facebook commentariat.) The Aurora, CO movie theater shooting did nothing to win restrictions on clip sizes and ammo purchases. Twenty slaughtered children at Sandy Hook weren’t enough to get our government to move on revisiting the expired assault weapons ban. A demented man executing his former coworkers on live TV probably won’t be enough to initiate anything like meaningful action on background checks and mental health screenings. Obviously, nothing will ever be enough. Absurd numbers of utterly pointless deaths are the price America’s shown itself willing to pay to keep devices that exist for literally no reason other than killing not just legal, but accessible and plentiful. So fuck it, no more glockblocking for me, I’m switching teams. If we’re going to be 2nd Amendment absolutists, let’s take it all the way to the absolutes..
Fun fact: though it rather pointedly uses the words “well regulated,” the 2nd Amendment never at any time uses the word “gun.” So PLAINLY our absolutism about the “shall not be abridged” part, to be consistent, must advocate for the legal private ownership of all conceivable arms, not just all guns. RPG launchers? No problem, let’s fuckin’ give one to James Holmes with a get-out-of-jail-free card! Suitcase nukes? The Tsarnaev brothers probably had WET DREAMS about that kind of efficiency! No joke, I’d seriously love to watch a morning commute go down in any major American city with Abrams tanks in the mix. You just know some of the pindicks who bought compensatory Hummers in the oughts only did so because fully armed tanks weren’t legally an option. Since we’ve decided we’re OK with handing the tools of mass death to our great nation’s many, many dizzyingly fucked-up crazystupids, why should our priceless freedom tolerate ANY restrictions?
Here’s a place to start: though they’re banned for military use by the U.N. Inhumane Weapons Convention, there exists no US federal law prohibiting citizen ownership of flamethrowers, and two Midwestern companies have begun manufacturing such devices for private individuals. Troy, Michigan’s Ion Productions and Cleveland, Ohio’s Xmatter both currently offer totally distinct consumer flamethrowing products—the XM42 and the Throwflame X15, respectively, because you gotta have an “X” in that shit—all the better to fulfill the differing needs of discerning Americans who need to set a whole bunch of stuff on fire without having to get very close to it.
XM42 images from XM42.com
Throwflame X15 images from Throwflame’s Facebook page
Now, while the X15 is a fairly straightforward take on the flamethrower we’re used to seeing in movies that have flamethrowers in them, the XM42 is an actual design advance (sorry, Ohio, Michigan scores this round). Because my inner child is a 14-year-old boy who loves explosion movies and hasn’t yet figured out that Batman’s kind of a fascist, my first thought on seeing the XM42 was “WHOA, COOL!” It’s a compact, hand-held device that retails for about $900, compared to the Throwflame’s $1,600 price tag. (Has to be said: what the fuck, Ohio, you’re literally in an arms race with Michigan here and this is the kind of game you’re bringing? As a Clevelander, I’m a little bit ashamed. That being said, the X15 does boast greater range, so if it’s worth the $700 difference to immolate someone who’s twice as far from you, perhaps that expense is justified.)
Speaking to Ars Technica, Ion’s Chris Byars offered this:
Why make/build/sell this? It’s awesome. It’s revolutionary in its design in contrast to previous flamethrowers throughout the years due to its portability and instant-action on the fly functionality. I wanted one, personally, back in 2007, so I began developing plans to create one. Years went by with slow development, and then a spark hit and I decided this was the year to make it happen. I used the resources I gained as an engineer in the auto industry to learn how to make this a reality.
Despite being arms that expel fire, these devices are not legally considered firearms (AMERICA!), and according to a FAQ on the Throwflame web site, the only state regulations on the devices are a permit requirement in California and a total ban in Maryland. Ion’s hometown of Troy, MI is weighing a ban that could cripple the company or force it to move, as it would prohibit not just the storage and use, but the simple possession of a flamethrower within city limits. But this is backwards nanny-state thinking! We should be issuing flamethrowers to teachers so they can fight back against the flamethrower attacks that plague our schools! The only thing that can stop bad guys with flamethrowers is good guys with flamethrowers! Flamethrowers don’t kill people…