LANSING – State Representative Sarah Roberts (D-St. Clair Shores) introduced legislation, inspired by a constituent concern, that would ban the manufacture, sale and possession of flamethrowers in Michigan. Flamethrowers are not regulated under state law, and there are no restrictions on anyone who wants to buy one. A Michigan company is selling a flamethrower that can shoot a stream of flame for about 25 feet. A Cleveland company also makes and sells a flamethrower that can shoot a stream of flame for 50 feet.

“There is no good reason for anyone to have or use a flamethrower,” said Roberts. “These are dangerous devices, and currently there is nothing in our state laws that prevent anyone – adult or minor – from buying a flamethrower. Owning a flamethrower is a disaster waiting to happen.”

Modern flamethrowers were first used in World War I. Their use increased in WWII and continued until the Geneva Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons in 1980 stopped most military use. The United States later ratified the convention’s Prohibitions or Restrictions on the Use of Incendiary Weapons.

Federal law also does not prohibit private ownership of flamethrowers, but some states do, including Maryland. Flamethrowers are illegal in California except in very limited circumstances that require a permit.

 “Shooting a stream of flame for 25 feet or more in our neighborhoods, or anywhere in our communities, is just too dangerous, and that is why we need to ban these devices” said Roberts. “I hope my colleagues will agree with me so we can move my bill quickly and stop a terrible accident or personal injury just waiting to happen.”