President Trump is scheduled to address the National Rifle Association convention in Dallas on Friday, but what has many in the crowd of about 80,000 gun enthusiasts are already talking is the first look at a pistol that looks just like a cell phone.
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Police and some politicians, including Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y) are also talking about it – about what a terrible, dangerous idea it is and why it should be banned.
First announced in 2016 by a Minnesota company, the first actual working models of the Ideal Conceal Pistol became available last year and are on display in the NRA exhibit hall for the first time this year, with a retail price of around $400 each.
One of the "featured products" at the NRA annual meeting is a pistol that looks like a cellphone. What could go wrong? pic.twitter.com/dcsCAnOrJh
— Timothy Johnson (@timothywjohnson) April 30, 2018
It is essentially a double-barreled derringer inside a cell phone case that opens up to become a deadly weapon without having to be cocked.
“From soccer moms to professionals of every type,” a promo enthusiastically promises, “this gun allows you the option of not being a victim.”
When the gun was first announced it was denounced by Sen. Schumer who called it a “disaster waiting to happen.”
Schumer asked the Department of Justice and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives to look into what was then referred to as “iPhone guns,” and possibly ban them, but so far that does not appear to have happened.
Schumer and others had previously warned about cell phone cases that look like a gun, which eBay has now refused to offer for sale.
The manufacturer of the cell phone gun touts it as a gun that can “hide in plain sight,” which can be put into a pocket or purse and be “virtually undetectable.”
However, it is also bringing warnings from police in the U.S. and Europe, where it is already illegal, and it could add to an existing problem of law enforcement mistaking a cell phone for a gun.
In December, former NFL player Desmond Marrow, an African American, was subdued and beaten by three white police officers in Georgia who “mistakenly” thought his cell phone was a gun.
Police slammed this former NFL player to the ground because they mistook his phone for a gun. pic.twitter.com/Q4tnxzNvpY
— AJ+ (@ajplus) April 29, 2018
In March, Sacramento police killed a young black man standing in his grandmother’s backyard at night when they “mistook” his cell phone for a gun and proceeded to shoot him 20 times.
“This is one of the most controversial guns right from the beginning,” the Firearm Blog posted recently. “Some people praise the idea, others see dangers in it because it doesn’t look like a gun.”
“THIS terrifying iPhone-styled hand gun could be about to infiltrate our streets, police have warned,” reports The Sun tabloid newspaper in London.
Police in Belgium have already put out an alert warning that the cell phone gun is expected to be brought to Europe illegally and that is a great danger.
“To the eye, nothing can distinguish it from a mobile telephone,” the police alert read, “Most people possess a smartphone, meaning that it can pass completely overlooked.”
In a comment on a blog post about the cell phone gun, a poster wrote: “Great, now cops have a credible excuse to shoot first and ask questions later when they see someone take out a cell phone. What could go wrong?”
The reckless proliferation of guns in America is already a plague that has led to untold numbers of unnecessary, preventable deaths and added dangerous threats to domestic violence victims as well as law enforcement.
The anything-goes attitude of the NRA suggests that all guns are good – but that is clearly ridiculous, and the idea of a gun that looks like a cell phone is definitely one idea which should never have come to fruition.