Fire napalm for $1,600: ‘Fun’ flamethrowers go on sale online in US (VIDEO)
Cleveland-based startup Throwflame offers liquid fire projectors, which can shoot flames of over 15 meters, for $1,599. A similar device by Ion Productions Team of Detroit can eject fire for around 8 meters, and costs just $900.
The companies say that their flamethrowers have so far caused no injuries and are merely “fun” devices, but not weapons.
"A lot of people just use it for a whole lot of fun,” Quinn Whitehead, Throwflame founder, told Popular Mechanics. "We get a lot of people that do, like, machine gun rentals, and own guns, and they'll also offer like a flamethrower package… People will come up there, rent tanks, run over cars, shoot flamethrowers. That sort of thing."
The Ion website, which also offers flamethrowers, says its products are “simple to use, endless possibilities for entertainment and utility. Start your bonfire from across the yard.” Importantly, the company adds that the irresponsible use of the “fun device” may well lead to “injury or even death.”
A more practical use of flamethrowers includes agricultural controlled burns; clearing brush, snow and ice as well as pyrotechnic events and movie props.
Unlike the UK, where possession of a liquid fire gun carries a sentence of up to 10 years, US federal law doesn’t restrict ownership of flamethrowers in any way. A spokesman for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives said his organization doesn’t regulate flamethrowers because they are not guns.
However, some individual states, like Maryland and California, have legislation that outlaws liquid fire guns.
California, for instance, views them as “destructive devices” and owning a flamethrower is an offense punishable with a county jail term not exceeding one year, or a fine of up to $10,000. Incendiary weapons are only allowed for use on movie sets there, which requires a special permit issued by the State Fire Marshal.
Flamethrowers, which were widely used during trench warfare in World War I and World War II, are banned for military use in accordance with the UN Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons concluded at Geneva in 1980.
The US Army stopped using them in 1978, saying that liquid fire guns were ineffective in modern combat and caused too many PR problems due to the horrific death they inflict.
However, American firefighters still employ the so-called Terra Torch, which is based on the same principle as the flamethrower, but has a tank mounted in a truck instead of a portable one.