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Culture & Politics

Gun-Shaped Lighters Banned from New York

by Robert W. Hunnicutt   |  October 3rd, 2013 12

Gun Shaped LighterIn Soviet times, those lucky few citizens who owned cars were banned from making any visible modification of them. A J.C. Whitney catalog would have been to the Kremlin in those days what the Anarchist’s Cookbook is to the Democratic Party.

I would say the very definition of totalitarianism is to tell a man he can’t have curb feelers on his Zil or a Hollywood Wolf Whistle on his Lada. You couldn’t paint your car a new color, couldn’t install a nice set of rims, couldn’t wiggle under it and put in a lift kit to deal with those Novosibirsk potholes. Fuzzy dice, I’m not sure about them.

New York City has become the national capital of telling people—in excruciating detail—how to live. Outgoing New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has earned infamy by regulating people’s cigarettes, trans fats and soft drink cups. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo generously allows you a 10-round magazine, but you can’t load it with more than seven.

Now the state legislature has voted to ban novelty cigarette lighters of the sort commonly sold at New York corner stores. You know the kind: shaped like animals or even guns. Now, I don’t smoke, and never have. I have owned a gun-shaped novelty lighter or two thanks to an executive at Shotgun News advertiser Century Arms, the king of advertising specialties.

So I don’t feel any great personal sense of loss on this subject, but I was very disturbed by the justification offered by the bill’s sponsor. Jeffrey Dinowitz, D-Bronx, said his goal was to keep the lighters away from children who come across them at home and play with them, creating a fire hazard.

“These are the types of bills that don’t make headlines, but they are the types of things that can prevent a terrible tragedy from happening,” Dinowitz said. “Little kids are drawn to these novelty lighters not because they are lighters, but because they look like guns, or cars or even fishing poles … there’s no reason for them to exist.”

Well. “No reason for them to exist.” Sound familiar? We have been told over the years that there was no reason for “Saturday Night Specials” to exist, no reason for “cheap surplus weapons of war” to exist, no reason for caseless ammo firearms to exist, no reason for “pocket rockets” to exist, no reason for “military-style assault weapons” to exist, no reason for “high-capacity magazines” to exist, etc.

I’d say the fact that a fair amount of Chinese child labor is occupied making these gizmos means there’s a reason for them to exist. Freedom, as I understand it, means politicians don’t get to decide what or whom has a reason to exist, with a few exceptions like the Ebola virus or maybe Justin Bieber. Novelty lighters made a few bucks for bodega owners and gave a few chuckles to those who shelled out a couple greenbacks for one. That’s plenty of reason in my book.

If we are to be allowed only those items with which a toddler can be trusted, our horizons as adults are going to be about the width of a playpen. I’d readily admit I don’t need a lighter that looks like a toilet. But what I really don’t need is some politician telling me I can’t have one.

  • 18D

    The only thing that needs to be banned in NY is stupidity.

    • Bob

      Who would live there then

    • Solitaire

      But what would you do with all the vacant government buildings, a population of 50 can only use so many…

  • O Manning

    You know, this is maybe the first of the “New York City” laws I’ve seen that really looks like it would save innocent lives. Heaven knows you don’t need any more reasons to get shot by New York City Police…since even being in the neighborhood when they’re shooting at someone else is practically a guarantee you’ll get nailed.

  • Jeffrey

    But hundreds of vermin on machines is ok.

  • Leatherstocking

    New York will shortly ban flights from the state of Florida because it is shaped like a gun. Upstaters, it is time to secede and become a separate state.

  • Britbike

    Hey! If you cant ban guns,, then you can ban toys,,, More douschbag boomer games,,, I think the ones that got there asses kicked in school are making policy again!!!

  • Mike Smith

    Come on guys some kid gets a gun shaped lighter goes out on the street and points it at a police officer then what happens? Police shoots kid and all hell brakes lose. In the land of morons that is all it would take and they would blame gun owners and want to start up the gun ban again. Guns are guns and lighters need to be lighters. Up there in the land of bubble wrap me so I don’t hurt myself we don’t need any confusion

    • Mike

      I think the bigger concern is the slippery slope argument that can be made, any legislation against guns or gun owners only makes it easier for more legislation to get passed. Also, the gun lighters they are talking about are miniature replicas, they don’t look like real guns any more than a picture of a gun looks like a real gun, so I don’t think we need to worry about kid getting shot because they are playing with gun lighters. Accidental shooting are super rare anyway, they are like plane crashes, rare but they seem more common because they get reported on like crazy when they do happen.

  • ElHalcon

    Just ban the New York City area from having any contact with the upper part of the state and any other part of the United States

  • Mike

    How about parents become more responsible and don’t leave guns, lighters, or medications out where there kids can get them? New laws can’t fix stupid. The majority of accidental deaths are from car crashes, poisonings, and falls (, Fire and gun related accidental deaths are very rare especially considering how common guns are fires are in this country. If you ban lighters shaped like guns or fishing rods, then kids will play with matches. I’d like to say these politicians are idiots, but I think they know exactly how ridiculous their proposals are, but they know how to get votes.

  • CBD

    “These are the types of bills that don’t make headlines”. These are the types of bills that SHOULD MAKE HEADLINES, the type of bills that should be SHOUTED AGAINST FROM THE ROOFTOPS because it’s a bill written by some asshat legislator who thinks he knows how everyone from wall street to the homeless should be living, telling you what you CAN AND CANNOT HAVE. Why? “Because safety!” “Buh-buh-buh, because the children!” “Duh… uh… boll weevils… duh huh huh… durr… Uh… ‘Because it makes us feel safer’. *hiccup* Duh… *drools*”

    ARE YOU KIDDING ME? Because it will prevent tragedies? WHAT TRAGEDIES? Here’s a good idea, how about the people who buy the goddamn things think for one solitary second about the fact that it’s actually a lighter and can produce a flame which could, gee, I dunno? Um.. Oh yeah, it could START A FIRE… Here’s the answer! The people who buy the things just need to KEEP THEM THE HELL OUT OF CHILDREN’S REACH OR DON’T BUY THEM! Oh gee, we TOTALLY needed some half-assed knee-jerk legislation to fix that problem… My God where would we be without our all-knowing, all-seeing, omnipotent legislators…

    Pardon me while I puke up my intestines trying to understand their “logic” on this one.

    Just like gun laws. “Because they’re dangerous, and the children, and feelings!” Gee, what a surprise. Guess what? My middle finger is dangerous if I use it to gouge out your eyeball and cram it down your throat. Gonna ban middle fingers and cut them all off because in some alternate universe a version of me who might actually commit unjustified violence MIGHT just do that? Just go ahead and kill me now before this assault on my intelligence gives me some kind of brain cancer…

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