Popular YouTuber Tom “ProSyndicate” Cassell just wants to own a flamethrower. Or well, technically it’s a “Not A Flamethrower,” a glorified propane torch mystifyingly produced by that one Elon Musk company that digs tunnels. Police in Cassell’s home of Manchester, England, however, don’t love it.
Cassell claims police first started asking around about the Not A Flamethrower last week on August 10. Problem: Cassell was out of town. Apparently, though, police had seen him using his new toy in YouTube videos, and they found it to be in violation of firearms law. According to Cassell, three officers showed up at his house, and a friend who happened to be there at the time snapped a photo, which Cassell posted to Twitter. This week, Cassell returned home, and he says that today officers came to his house.
“When I first spoke with them, they asked for me to hand over the Not A Flamethrower, to which I replied that I wouldn’t being doing [it] as I’m awaiting legal guidance before making any decisions,” Cassell told Kotaku in an email. His lawyer is currently in Africa, he said, making it difficult to talk through exactly what steps he should take next. Despite some initial confusion on the matter, the police apparently did not have a warrant for Cassell’s arrest, and Cassell said they wanted to resolve the situation “on the lowest level.” So they agreed to let him speak with lawyers and resume the conversation on Friday.
Cassell is a YouTuber known for his daily vlogs and also has one of the most-followed accounts on Twitch, where he sporadically streams games like Fortnite, Minecraft, and Call of Duty. It’s kind of a miracle that he still has any of that, because you might remember him from the Counter-Strike gambling fiasco that led to Valve cracking down on the entire multi-billion dollar skin gambling scene in 2016. Along with fellow YouTuber and partner Trevor “TMartn” Martin, Cassell promoted a skin gambling site called CSGO Lotto without overtly disclosing that he helped found it. Despite the ensuing furor and an FTC investigation, Martin and Cassell got off with a slap on the wrist.
While the Not A Flamethrower is, in most regards, a terrible idea, it’s not technically a flamethrower. The Not A Flamethrower was produced by Musk’s Boring Company (that’s it’s name, not my appraisal of it) in a moment of frenzied capitalistic excess earlier this year. Why? Because when you’re incomprehensibly rich, there’s no limit to the gimmicky marketing stunts you can pull off. Musk and company made 20,000 of the things. Each one cost $500. They sold out in days. The “Not A” bit is Musk’s tongue-in-cheek attempt at getting around customs regulations, which tend to be opposed to companies shipping fire-belching mini-cannons all over the place. Also, Musk’s device spurts flame up to a distance of less than ten feet, meaning that it falls outside the range that requires people to obtain a $425 permit in Musk’s adoptive state of California. That hasn’t stopped lawmakers from trying to regulate it, though, given that California is currently experiencing its worst wildfire season, er, ever.
“If I wanted another Not A Flamethrower, I could just buy a weed burner that you can buy off Amazon,” Cassell said earlier today on Twitter.
That’s also part of why he’s fighting so hard to try and hold onto his piece of incredibly ill-advised Musk memorabilia. It’s more about who made it, he said, not what it is or can do.
“Elon Musk, a billionaire, gets bored and decides ‘I’m gonna sell a flamethrower!’” Cassell said to Kotaku. “Having that ability to just say, ‘I’m gonna do this today’ and then doing it is amazing, and for that I tip my hat to Elon.” He also compared Musk to Iron Man.
Cassell says he’s sealed up his Not A Flamethrower so that it’s no longer functional and has considered also removing mechanisms so that it’s further unable to produce its signature, largely useless Musk-branded wisps of flame. He also says he’s cooperating with police as much as he can and “trying not to waste” their time.
“If I had to hand over the Not A Flamethrower to the police, I’d be absolutely gutted,” Cassell said. “It’s not just a Not A Flamethrower to me. It’s a collector’s item that can never be replaced, and I really don’t want to part ways with it.”
Truly, it would be a tragedy for this sketchy rich person to lose his symbol of excess from an ethically questionable, significantly richer person. We can only hope that Elon Musk will build a flamethrower-sized submarine to try and save the day.