Kirk Kjellberg was in a restaurant when a child saw his gun. Kjellberg usually doesn’t want to advertise his firearm, preferring to carry a concealed weapon to defend himself and those around him, but he was frustrated with the unmistakeable shape of a pistol giving him away.
“When a little child, a boy about 7, saw me and said, ‘Mommy, mommy that guy’s got a gun,’ and that whole restaurant of course turns and stares at you, and I thought there’s just gotta be something better to do than this,” Kjellberg told NBC News. “It’s more that they want to be able to carry a gun when they need to and not have to engage other people about why they’re carrying that gun.”
People have been hiding weapons in ordinary objects for thousands of years, and with the ubiquity of smartphones, it was only a matter of time. Kjellberg designed the IDEAL Conceal handgun to look like a large smartphone, but it’s actually a two-shot double-barrel .380 pistol. Folded up, it’s about the size of a Samsung Galaxy S7 in a heavy protective case, but a handle snaps down, exposing the trigger, when the user is ready to fire. It can’t fire while closed, which means that the ATF classifies it the same way they would a regular pistol, not as a disguised weapon or Title II firearms, which would be subject to special regulation under the National Firearms Act.
The idea of a concealed or disguised gun has been around since at least the late 1800s. This “Chicago Protector” palm pistol was first patented in 1893.
Kjellberg isn’t even the first person to make a cell phone gun — here’s a .22 pistol that looks like a bulky 90’s cell.
Still, the IDEAL Conceal’s viral marketing and low price mean it could become more than just a novelty item in America’s gun-friendly culture. Kjellberg is adamant that his gun isn’t a safety risk if handled properly, like any firearm, despite the fact that it looks uncannily like a harmless cell phone, which some have pointed out are some of the first things children grab to play with.
“In America, we have lots of children in contact with pistols already,” Kjellberg told NBC News. “For me, it’s not the gun. It’s the people. So if you have a pistol and you have children anywhere near you, it’s your responsibility to lock that stuff up and keep it away from children.”
He’s also a firm believer in the NRA’s “the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun,” theory.
The gun has a plastic frame with a metal interior, meaning it wouldn’t be easy to slip past airport security. Kjellberg said he’s been contacted by Homeland Security and would gladly pass along x-rays of the weapon to help officers recognize it.
Inverse reached out to Kjellberg to see what he thought about all the positive press his invention has been getting, but he didn’t immediately respond. He wants to start production on his smartphone-guns by mid 2016. They’ll start at around $395 for a two-shot .380 caliber model, according to IDEAL Conceal’s website.