TLDR: Not much.
Earlier this year, a company near me in the Upper Midwest called Ideal Conceal debuted a firearm that bears a striking similarity to a smartphone. Designed to fire .380 caliber ammunition from two separate barrels, Ideal Conceal’s firearm folds into a square reminiscent of an iPhone, allowing it to slip into a pocket like any other mobile device.
This so-called “cell phone gun” or “iPhone gun” entered the news cycle with plenty of controversy, especially given the focus in recent years on officer-involved shootings, self-defense laws and firearm legislation. One senator even called for a pre-emptive investigation into its legality.
Does this mark the beginning of firearms hidden in everyday objects? Will this make it easier for people ineligible to own a firearm to carry one in public? And what does this have to do with writing fiction? Here’s what you need to know.
This Gun Doesn’t Actually Exist
When Ideal Conceal first rolled out this “smartphone gun,” it drummed up interest using a concept of its firearm. Upon its “debut,” the company rolled out several images and video clips depicting the firearm. It did not, to my knowledge, release the sort of demo videos or in-depth specs common to new firearm releases. The public has never seen this gun in action. That’s a big red flag for me.
Watch this interview with Fox News. Note the lack of evidence the firearm can be successfully fired in the first place. It’s no different from a toy gun at this point.
This point was overlooked in the rush to make political and capital hay, which should strike you as odd because there was no working prototype upon announcement of Ideal Conceal’s firearm. In fact, one of its prototypes apparently fired its first shots in June 2016, months after the product’s initial announcement. Want proof? Here’s a screen grab from its Facebook page:
Heck, the company can’t even decide where to stick the laser sight in its own computer-generated images:
No one can buy one of these guns yet. The company is only accepting pre-orders at this point. Until a model lands in a customer’s gun safe, there’s no way of knowing whether Ideal Conceal is a scam, is legitimate or will be shut down by the feds before it even comes to market. I’m not saying this company is conning people out of money, but I am saying that anyone familiar with Kickstarter schemes will recognize a pattern.
“Wait a minute, Ben,” you say. “Why would all those politicians talk about banning this kind of firearm if it isn’t even on the market? Didn’t I hear that it’s already illegal anyway because it’s undetectable? They wouldn’t grandstand without a reason, would they?”
The answer, my friend, is that it is politically convenient in a major election year to do exactly that. If much-ado-about-nothing isn’t already the lens you view the political world through, I suggest you buy yourself a new set of glasses. Confusing BS is what keeps politicians in office and me in business. (“Hey, you! Buy my book about distilling the complicated world of firearms and knives into easily digestible tidbits so you can write fiction without looking like an idiot!”)
Gimmicks Don’t Work or Aren’t Better than the Original
Just as with 3D-printed firearms, pairing a lot of modular plastic with explosive gunpowder can result in a mess or worse. That’s probably why that Facebook post made such a big deal about firing that bullet. More traditional firearm manufacturers don’t boast about the first shot in the same way because, well, they make firearms. They’re not surprised when their products go bang without falling apart.
That underscores a point about gimmicks in the gun world and beyond. Their appeal only lasts as long as the buzz. When it comes time to deliver on those promises, expect “unforeseen circumstances.”
I have no idea whether Ideal Conceal falls into this category, but color me skeptical until I see footage of it being used successfully. Until then, it’s just a concept.
There are Better Ways to Carry a Concealed Firearm
Every state in the U.S. has some sort of provision for a person to legally carry a concealed firearm in public. When those people do so, they have more options than ever at their disposal. Not only has the variety of semi-auto pistols and revolvers increased, but so too has the holsters that go with them. It’s possible to discreetly carry a traditional handgun in nearly any situation.
Weigh that proven performance against something like this “smartphone gun,” and it’s hardly a choice. Once the novelty of a gun designed like a brick that only fires two shots wears off, I bet every one of Ideal Conceal’s pre-order customers goes back to their usual CCW (that’s gun talk for “concealed carry weapon”).
Remember, there’s a reason real-world detectives choose .40 caliber Smith & Wesson semi-automatic pistols, not gimmicks.
The Impact for Writing Fiction
You might think I wrote this post to dissuade you from including guns like this in your fiction. However, I’d peg “smartphone guns” in the same category as 3D-printed firearms and smart guns. That these firearms are under baked in the real world plays to your advantage. There are no functional limits holding you back. Let your imagination fill in the blanks, just don’t stretch it too far.
Get the Book
The Writer’s Guide to Weapons: A Practical Reference for Using Firearms and Knives in Fiction (Writer’s Digest Books) comes with everything but the ammo. Pick up a print or digital copy from these fine retailers: