DETROIT -- A suburban Detroit official is trying to extinguish the use of personal flamethrowers, which are being sold online by two Midwest companies, in his city.
The companies, located in the Detroit area and Cleveland, claim their devices can be used for recreation or to control weeds and insect hives, clear snow and ice, clear brush and start a bonfire.
Warren Mayor Jim Fouts calls the proposed uses "pretty specious" and "silly," the Detroit Free Press reported. Fouts wants to ban the storage, use and possession of flamethrowers in Warren because he believes the devices are dangerous and could damage property and cause house fires, injury or death.
"You know something like this will be used by bad people for bad things," Fouts said, adding that he thought it was "unthinkable" such a device would be sold to the general public.
According to the two companies making the devices, flamethrowers are legal in Michigan and most other states. They argue that flamethrowers have been used for decades, that people should be able to own one if they want to, and that misuse can happen with any product.
"It's how a product is used that determines punishment for the operator," said Chris Byars, CEO and project lead at the Ion Productions Team, the Detroit-area company that makes the XM42 flamethrower, touted as the world's first commercially available hand-held flamethrower. "Simply owning a particular product should not be a punishable offense. It's a matter of education and respect for safety."
Byars said it's "insulting and discriminatory" for a person to believe anyone who owns a particular product, such as a firearm or knife, is going to misuse it.
Warren City Council members are considering the mayor's proposal.
The ordinance would provide an exemption for law enforcement officers, employees or members of the Armed Forces, firefighters or local, state or federal government officials who are on duty and acting within the scope of his or her employment. Other violators would face a misdemeanor charge that's punishable by up to 90 days in jail and a $500 fine.
Council members are seeking further clarification on what would constitute as a flamethrower under the proposal.