Senator Casey and Commissioner Ross: This New Smartphone Gun Must Be Stopped
Right now, when you picture a handgun, the silhouette doesn’t resemble the iPhone in your pocket. Sen. Bob Casey and Philly Police Commissioner Richard Ross want to keep it that way.
The two joined forces, along with Pittsburgh Chief of Police Cameron McLay, to write a letter urging the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives to investigate smartphone guns, a new invention set to hit markets next fall.
Ideal Conceal, a company in Monticello, Minnesota, has manufactured a gun that passably resembles a pewter grey smartphone. CEO Kirk Kjellburg wants to sell these .380 caliber pieces for around $400, but Casey and Ross want ATF to intervene.
In a press conference, Casey acknowledged he usually doesn’t get involved with one company’s product. But for this, he’s making an exception.
“This is bad for kids, bad for families, and it’s especially bad for law enforcement,” said Casey.
Casey emphasized the danger these weapons pose for children who commonly use smartphones and wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between the two. He also acknowledged the threat they could pose to law enforcement, especially in Philly.
“We should not make Commissioner Ross’s job ever more difficult, ever more challenging, by allowing on the streets of Philadelphia … this kind of a product,” said Casey. Ross agreed and deemed smartphone guns “too problematic for law enforcement to deal with.” He said officers have to make split-second decisions and these guns would cause a lot of unnecessary, and dangerous, second-guessing. “It’s fraught with dangers I can’t even begin to describe,” added Ross.
When asked by Philadelphia about the legality of the guns, Casey said he isn’t sure if they’re prohibited under current federal law, but he’s got a pretty good hunch they are, which is where ATF comes in. In their letter, Ross and Casey ask the agency to determine the product’s compliance with existing federal law and “evaluate its effect on public safety.”
As far as federal laws on the books, the National Firearm Act regulates, among other things, any weapon “capable of being concealed on the person from which a shot can be discharged through the energy of an explosive.” Casey thinks these smartphone guns fit that bill and therefore fall under ATF’s umbrella of control.
Also, in 1988, the Undetectable Firearms Act made manufacturing, selling, or possessing any firearm undetectable by a metal detector illegal. All guns must be made of at least 3.7 ounces of stainless steel. The act also requires that guns “generate an image that accurately depicts the shape of the component” when scanned by airport security. Basically, a gun has to actually look like a gun, and Casey said Ideal Conceal’s product clearly does not, an attribute the company highlights on its website:
“Smartphones are EVERYWHERE, so your new pistol will easily blend in with today’s environment.”
When asked by Philadelphia if he reached out to Minnesota legislators about this issue, Casey said his office had preliminarily, “but we have more work to do on that.” He hopes ATF’s response will be “as prompt as necessary.” As far as he knows, Ideal Conceal is still in the prototype stage.