Elon Musk take note: 2 San Mateo County supervisors want to ban flamethrowers

Elon Musk demonstrates his flamethrower. Boring Co. photo.

Daily Post Staff Writer

The San Mateo County Board of Supervisors will consider a ban on flamethrowers, a product Elon Musk has been touting.

Supervisors Don Horsley and Warren Slocum are proposing that the board on Tuesday approve a ban on flamethrowers in response to ads Musk’s Boring Company is running promoting the torches as essentially toys for adults.

Horsley said that the ban is proactive because no one is selling flamethrowers in the county, nor have there been any issues of someone starting a fire with a commercial flamethrower.
Musk’s Boring Company was selling flamethrowers for $500 earlier this year. The first shipment went out in June.

“But why not do something before it happens? If it can be made, it will be made,” Horsley said.
Horsley also said there’s a concern that people wielding these flamethrowers may cause a large wildfire to break out.

The ban will prohibit, within unincorporated San Mateo County, the possession, sale, use or attempt to sell a flamethrower. A flamethrower is defined by the county as “any nonstationary and transportable device designed or intended to emit, or capable of emitting or propelling, fire or a burning stream of combustible or flammable liquid a distance of 22 inches or greater.”


The ban will not affect welding tools, fireplace torches or items used in agriculture, which typically emit shorter flames.

Horsley, who was sheriff before being elected as a county supervisor, said he never encountered a flamethrower as a weapon while patrolling the streets. District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe also said he’s never prosecuted a case where a flamethrower was involved.

This is not the first time the board has considered a ban on an unusual item. In December, Supervisor David Canepa proposed a ban on the creation of autonomous robots for warfare, a.k.a. killer robots.

Canepa’s fellow supervisors did not vote for a ban, but instead advised him to send letters about killer robots to congresswomen Anna Eshoo, D-Palo Alto, and Jackie Speier, D-San Mateo.


  1. Do we really need another ban? Commonsense should prevail here, it doesn’t make sense to have one of these. You can hurt yourself, others or set your house on fire. Or at least your drapes. So most people wouldn’t bother with one of these. But do we need another ban from the county? You could argue that chain saws could be used for harm (saw a movie about that once) but we don’t ban chain saws because of that potential. Do the supervisors have anything else they can do?

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