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The cheeky name Elon Musk gave his flamethrower hasn’t convinced cops that it’s not dangerous.
The fire-shooting torches that Musk’s Boring Company sold as a lucrative publicity stunt have created legal headaches around the world for people who bought them, a new report says.
The billionaire Tesla chief’s tunneling startup marketed its propane-powered flamethrower as “Not A Flamethrower” — a name Musk said was meant to head off potential problems with customs officials.
The Boring Company’s limited supply of 20,000 flamethrowers quickly sold out as Musk’s fans eagerly snapped up the rifle-shaped devices for $500 apiece.
But the sarcastic branding didn’t appear to amuse authorities who have seized hundreds of the dangerous devices, slapped their owners with fines and thrown at least one person in jail, TechCrunch reported Tuesday.
European officials have cracked down especially hard on the “Spaceballs”-inspired fire-shooters — officials in Switzerland confiscated them from as many as 1,000 people who were also fined, while British police went after a Manchester YouTuber who featured one in a video, according to the outlet.
Operation Viper, a London police squad that focuses on gun crime, even worked with customs officials to track the Not-A-Flamethrowers as they made their way to the city, TechCrunch says.
Max Craddock, an American who was among the first 1,000 people to buy Musk’s flamethrower, reportedly spent nearly a week behind bars in Italy after he tried to board a party bus with the gadget in June 2018.
“My lawyer asked the judge, ‘Do you really want to be the guy on international news keeping an American in jail over this toy?’” Craddock told TechCrunch, adding that he built himself a new flamethrower after he got back to the states. “I think that was the key to getting me out.”
Authorities in the US and Canada have also reportedly seized Not-A-Flamethrowers from suspected drug dealers in at least three cases. Canadian cops picked one up in a raid earlier this month along with supplies of cocaine, marijuana and a pile of cash, according to local media.
Musk’s flamethrower stunt also prompted New York lawmakers to introduce a bill that would make it illegal to possess a flamethrower in the state. The measure has not made it out of committees in the state Legislature.
“Allowing untrained people to own these machines purely for the value of entertainment is dangerous,” reads a summary of the bill sponsored by state Sen. John Brooks (D-Long Island).
The Boring Company did not immediately respond to a request for comment Wednesday.
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