Startup Offers Citizens More Opportunities To Get Shot By/Have Their Smartphones Seized By Law Enforcement
from the I-want-to-carry-a-gun-to-a-soccer-game,-but-don't-want-to-look-unhinged... dept
Someone’s worst fears just became a reality. A lot of “someones,” actually.
A Minnesota startup is making headlines today for its novel solution to the age-old problem of “children being frightened by strangers with guns.”
Behold, the double-barrel .380-calibre handgun by Ideal Conceal: a gun designed to look exactly like a smartphone, complete with fake camera lens and headphone jack.
“In today’s day and age, carrying a concealed pistol has become a necessity,” reads the company’s website. “But what if you didn’t have to conceal?”
“Smartphones are EVERYWHERE, so your new pistol will easily blend in with today’s environment,” the site further explains. “From soccer moms to professionals of every type, this gun allows you the option of not being a victim.”
I’m not sure people are going to be more comforted that people are carrying guns they can’t see, especially not US law enforcement, which has already demonstrated it fears cell phones as much as it fears guns.
Here’s Ideal Conceal’s new weapon:
Now, this is not the first disguised weapon offered for sale. Nor is it even the first gun designed to look like a cell phone.
But it is the one receiving the most media attention. Law enforcement officials have already registered their dismay.
“In general, the concept of any kind of weapon that’s disguised, so that it’s not apparent that it’s a weapon, would be cause for concern,” said Bill Johnson, executive director and general counsel for the National Association of Police Organizations.
Yes, it is a cause for concern. But not just for law enforcement agencies. It’s highly doubtful most criminals will have much use for a gun that only holds two bullets. But it does give law enforcement the justification it needs to continue harassing people for recording police activity. When any smartphone could conceivably be a weapon, securing the scene means grabbing all the smartphones in the vicinity. Whether or not this seizure would hold up in court during civil proceedings still needs to be tested, but by that point the elimination of possibly damning footage will have already been accomplished.
Worse, it makes mistaking a cell phone for a gun a justification for shooting someone carrying nothing more dangerous than a communication device. The slim possibility that it may be a weapon would generate the requisite “fear for safety of self and others” needed to deploy deadly force. While 99.9999% of the time, the smartphone will only be a smartphone, the 0.0001% chance that it isn’t is a blank check for phone seizures/deadly force.
For those concerned about any of these issues, the nation’s gun laws won’t be of much comfort. At best, the law would require purchasers to shell out $200 in tax (above the $395 retail price), rather than the normal $5 tax applied to most guns — as this would fall into the “any other weapon” category. Chances are concealed-carry permits would be needed in states requiring them, even if the weapon is carried in “plain sight.”
Ideal Conceal says it’s already received 2,500 emails from interested customers, which is really a very small percentage of gun owners. Despite this weapon’s niche status, we can expect to see more law enforcement officials and legislators expressing their concern in the near future, possibly in the form of badly-written bills filled with broad wording and unintended consequences.
But the broader harm won’t be felt by law enforcement. It will be felt by citizens “armed” with actual cell phones, who will find their devices confiscated more frequently, possibly with the assistance of deadly force.