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house Bill H.R. 4901

Flamethrowers? Really? Act: Making Possession of a Flamethrower a Federal Crime

Argument in favor

There are no federal laws or regulations on the books that apply to flamethrowers, which pose a public safety threat. The possession or transfer of a flamethrower should be a federal crime punishable by fines and imprisonment to keep people safe.

Ann marie's Opinion
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02/24/2018
I can't believe I'm voting on this. What an idiotic question. The NRA must be behind it... you know, the terrorist organization that have made our streets into Beirut.
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02/24/2018
When flamethrowers are outlawed, only outlaws will have flamethrowers.
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S's Opinion
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02/24/2018
There must be some idiot Republican who believes a flame thrower in one hand and an assault weapon in the other is a constitutional right and should not be infringed upon. We infringe on free speech by banning the shouting of “Fire!” or some other out cry intended to create mass hysteria. We infringe on freedom of speech by making slander and libel a crime. We infringe on the operation of drivers when they drive drunk by disallowing drunken driving. Common sense laws or infringements as some might call them protect the public. That’s why drunk drivers land in jail. That’s why we stop on red lights. It’s the reason we don’t shout fire in a crowded theater. To protect the public’s safety. Gun control protects the public and is as important as obeying traffic laws which have the potential to kill if not controlled. Common sense. It’s not rocket science.
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Argument opposed

Flamethrowers aren’t being used to commit crimes, and even if they were there are other laws like murder, manslaughter, or arson that could be used to try the accused. This is a solution in search of a problem, not everything needs to be criminalized.

Christine's Opinion
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02/24/2018
Wow. I think we have way more burning issues to tackle. Assault weapons? DACA? The dismantling of the ACA law? Abolishing regulations enacted for the good of the people? Fringe voices commandeering our government? A lunatic in the white house seemingly beholden to russia? Upcoming election security? Shall I go on & on?
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John.Nutt's Opinion
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02/24/2018
This is not necessary. Never heard of anyone using a flamethrower for anything but heating up some coals for a BBQ. We don’t want big government.
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SneakyPete's Opinion
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02/24/2018
Another poor example of Congressional members wasting valuable time and money 💰 on useless projects and laws.
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bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The senate has not voted
  • The house has not voted
      house Committees
      Committee on the Judiciary
      Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security
    IntroducedJanuary 30th, 2018

What is House Bill H.R. 4901?

This bill — known as the Flamethrowers? Really? Act — would make it a federal crime to possess or transfer a flamethrower by including flamethrowers in the ban on machineguns. Flamethrowers would be defined as “any nonstationary or transportable device designed to ignite and then emit or propel a burning stream of a combustible or flammable substance a distance of at least six feet”. Possession or transfer of a flamethrower would be punishable by fines and prison terms of up to five or 10 years.

Exceptions to this legislation would be granted to unserviceable flamethrowers that are in museums, and functioning flamethrowers carried by qualified current or retired law enforcement officers.

Impact

People who would buy, produce, or sell flamethrowers; courts; and law enforcement.

Cost of House Bill H.R. 4901

A CBO cost estimate is unavailable.

More Information

In-Depth: Sponsoring Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY) introduced this bill to make it a federal crime to possess or transfer a flamethrower, writing the following on Facebook in 2016 after he introduced this bill’s predecessor:

“Last night on his show, Seth Meyers did a piece about my “Flamethrowers? Really? Act” which is a bill that would finally put some commonsense laws on the books when it comes to the sale of flamethrowers in America. Currently, only 2 states regulate the sale of flamethrowers, and no federal regulations exist of any kind (seriously). The title of the bill was inspired by the Saturday Night Live, “Really!?! With Seth and Amy” segments Meyers and Amy Poehler used to do, lampooning things that were so ridiculous, you couldn’t help but say to yourself, “Really?”

As op-eds opposing this bill in The Daily Signal and Reason note, the use of flamethrowers to commit a crime is “exceedingly rare” and the only apparent examples of their use occurred in Germany in 1964 when a homemade flamethrower was used by schizophrenic man to kill 10, and in Britain in 1995 to burn three. The Daily Signal column noted:

“If someone were to commit a crime with a flamethrower, there are plenty of federal and state laws that would prohibit and punish all of the harmful conduct that could conceivably result. So, there’s no factual or legal need for a federal flamethrower bill. Murder, manslaughter, and arson are prohibited and routinely prosecuted, in virtually every state. Indeed, they are some of the oldest crimes on the books.”

This legislation has the support of two cosponsors, both of whom are Democrats.


Of Note: Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk sold 20,000 flamethrowers at $500 each to raise money for his Boring Company infrastructure project. Flamethrowers have a variety of commercial uses, such as controlled burns for agricultural or fire protection purposes, roofers can use them when installing rubber roofing, and are used in rural areas to melt snow following massive snowfalls and to help emergency responders access locations during such snowfall.


Media:

Summary by Eric Revell

(Photo Credit: CHellyar / iStock)

AKA

Flamethrowers? Really? Act

Official Title

To amend chapter 44 of title 18, United States Code, to treat flamethrowers the same as machineguns.

    I can't believe I'm voting on this. What an idiotic question. The NRA must be behind it... you know, the terrorist organization that have made our streets into Beirut.
    Like (141)
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    Share
    Wow. I think we have way more burning issues to tackle. Assault weapons? DACA? The dismantling of the ACA law? Abolishing regulations enacted for the good of the people? Fringe voices commandeering our government? A lunatic in the white house seemingly beholden to russia? Upcoming election security? Shall I go on & on?
    Like (171)
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    Share
    This is not necessary. Never heard of anyone using a flamethrower for anything but heating up some coals for a BBQ. We don’t want big government.
    Like (100)
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    Another poor example of Congressional members wasting valuable time and money 💰 on useless projects and laws.
    Like (72)
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    When flamethrowers are outlawed, only outlaws will have flamethrowers.
    Like (70)
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    The record of criminal use does not support the need for this legislation. Agricultural and other legitimate uses would be penalized needlessly. This then is an example of unnecessary and poor legislation.
    Like (51)
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    This is just stupid.
    Like (38)
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    Flame devices are commonly needed for farming. Also, they’re much less likely to be used in mass murder than handguns, as almost anyone can run away from a flamethrower. I’m not sure where this is coming from: backlash against Elon Musk? A precursor to central registry of any lethal weapon?
    Like (35)
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    Only a crazy LIB would come up with a bill like this. To them, Big Gov’t IS the solution to everything! They will not stop until they regulate everything. Sounds like Communism to me. GO TRUMP!
    Like (30)
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    Flamethrowers aren’t being used to commit crimes, and even if they were there are other laws like murder, manslaughter, or arson that could be used to try the accused. This is a solution in search of a problem, not everything needs to be criminalized. Stop over criminalization!
    Like (27)
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    This is an obvious smokescreen to try changing the conversation at hand. How many mass burnings from flamethrowers have we had in this country? Not nearly as many as guns. Adjust the legislation and stop changing the subject.
    Like (24)
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    Hey government, stay out of my business. This act must have been dreamed up by somebody in Berkeley. Up in smoke.
    Like (21)
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    How about toilet paper? I’m sure someone could cram enough toilet paper down their throat and suffocate! BIG GOVERNMENT IS THE BIGGEST PROBLEM THAT EXISTS IN OUR COUNTRY TODAY! HEY PROFESSIONAL POLITICIANS: WOULD YOU GO AHEAD AND FINISH WHAT IS ON YOUR PLATE FIRST BEFORE YOU EVEN THINK ABOUT FLAMETHROWERS???
    Like (20)
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    There must be some idiot Republican who believes a flame thrower in one hand and an assault weapon in the other is a constitutional right and should not be infringed upon. We infringe on free speech by banning the shouting of “Fire!” or some other out cry intended to create mass hysteria. We infringe on freedom of speech by making slander and libel a crime. We infringe on the operation of drivers when they drive drunk by disallowing drunken driving. Common sense laws or infringements as some might call them protect the public. That’s why drunk drivers land in jail. That’s why we stop on red lights. It’s the reason we don’t shout fire in a crowded theater. To protect the public’s safety. Gun control protects the public and is as important as obeying traffic laws which have the potential to kill if not controlled. Common sense. It’s not rocket science.
    Like (18)
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    Um flamethrowers are used by professionals we don't have a sweeping flamethrower epidemic like opioids and school shootings. And get your asses on a clean DACA bill that won't include that money pit wall!
    Like (16)
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    Let’s ban things that are actually killing people.
    Like (15)
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    Every day something stupider than the day before.
    Like (10)
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    This is so crazy because I use a Weed Dragon to Kill Weeds and destroy their seeds in my Garden before I plant it. This is so stupid! Do they have a Brain?
    Like (7)
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    This is a waste of government money . Let work on mental healthcare and keeping firearms out of killer hands
    Like (7)
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    Are you kidding me? Flamethrowers? Anything but trying to focus on the real agenda. Get some real work done or you will be done.
    Like (6)
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