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Cell-phone gun inventor: 'I knew some people wouldn't like it. But I wasn't expecting so much venom.'

Ideal Conceal
The gun — a two-shot, .380 caliber derringer with a polymer case and metal workings — is still in the production stage and won't be available for purchase until fall.

Kirk Kjellberg, the entrepreneur from Monticello who invented a handgun that folds into the shape of an iPhone — says he wasn't expecting the fusillade of feedback that has erupted over his design.

Among others, U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer has called for the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate the gun before it comes to market, calling the invention “a disaster waiting to happen.”

The gun — a two-shot, .380 caliber derringer with a polymer case and metal workings — is still in the production stage and won't be available for purchase until fall. Already, more than 5,000 people have expressed interest in buying one at the list price of $395. The slogan: "Carry with confidence, conceal in style."

Kjellberg says he wasn't planning to jump into the gun control debate; he was just looking to solve the problem of making conceal-and-carry, well, more concealed, after a youngster made a fuss about Kjellberg's gun at a restaurant.

We talked with Kjellberg — soon after he'd finished a Skype interview with a reporter in Russia — about his gun, his background and what he's hearing about  his "Ideal Conceal" concept.

MinnPost: You've gotten tons of publicity about the gun. Did you expect this much attention?

Kirk Kjellberg: No. It just went viral. We expected it to be a niche-type weapon that some people might like for conceal-and-carry.

MP: Some of the feedback has been negative. Did you anticipate having to defend the idea?

KK: I did, in as much as it's been pretty split between liberals and conservatives, or gun and anti-gun. I knew some people wouldn't like it. But I wasn't expecting so much venom. What's the right word? Aggression. Mostly on social media.

MP: What positive things have people said?

KK: They like the style and look forward to carrying it. They say it's an innovation that will allow them to exercise their Second Amendment right, without drawing attention. A lot of time, people don't really want their gun to be visible and this would allow them to carry a pistol and protect themselves.

MP: Will it show up at airport checkpoints?

KK: It has a polymer case, with inner workings of metal that can't evade metal detection. We'll give Homeland Security a copy of our x-rays. It has two big barrels and hammers, so they'll clearly understand that it's a pistol.

MP: In an arrest situation, will it be harder for law enforcement to identify it as a weapon?

KK: That comes up and it's an erroneous assumption. I've spoken to law enforcement officials who say they always have to be careful about a gun in every situation, because they have one. Those who worry about this aren't familiar with the conceal-carry law. Remember, this is a two-shot derringer. It's not an offensive weapon. The last time it was used as an attack weapon, I believe, was the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. People use these guns to defend themselves. In the old West, the bad guys wore six-shooters and the people in saloons, hoping to defend themselves, carried derringers.

MP: Any concerns about kids accidentally using it?

Kirk Kjellberg
Kirk Kjellberg

KK: I'm glad people bring that up. I think America's lost its sense of personal responsibility. My take is, if you can't keep a gun way from your child, you should not have a gun, or you should not have a child. In every house there are drain cleaners and knives and other dangerous items. We keep kids away from them. Why is this different? And I know that pisses people off, but frankly, we've got to be responsible. It's about people's ability to do what's necessary to protect their families and keep things from kids.

MP: Is there a way to customize it for the user only, maybe something like the iPhone thumb scan access process?

KK: I have looked into and had some conversations. I haven't yet seen one personally that seems super effective. In a situation where someone is coming for you, I'm not sure how it would work out. The goal here is to help the good guys protect themselves and others. Might bad guys find ways to use it, too? Maybe. But it's the same thing as when you walk into Wal-Mart to buy a knife. You can use it to cut a steak, or use it to hurt someone. This isn't a very gangster-type gun. You'd never use it in an offensive capacity. Maybe in a duel. But I can't imagine someone would try to use a derringer to cause trouble.

MP: Have you been involved in the gun debate before?

KK: I grew up in a family with guns. My dad taught me to shoot, and about safety and how to clean a weapon. My position is, I've seen seen too many instances where someone with conceal-carry stopped murder or robbery and there's been little press about it. There are lots of cases out there. I love the police, but they can't be everywhere all the time.

MP: How do you feel about being drawn into this very political conversation?

KK: I never mind having a debate or a conversation, and talking things through. That's always helpful. But one thing I can't get my mind around is: why do some people think it's beneficial to be hateful? Even in this year's election, it's: "You're on my side or you're not!" People don't bother to talk about the issues or what they see in Hillary or Trump or Bernie. 

MP: What's your background? Where did you grow up?

KK: I'm from Monticello. My family has always been entrepreneurial and I've done everything from farming to sales to property management to speaking and training. 

MP: What's the timeline for sales?

KK: We're looking at production in October with a manufacturer out East that wants to remain anonymous for now. They don't want to deal with answering all these questions. They leave that to me. 

MP: Have you had other inventions?

KK: I've worked on a couple things that never went anywhere. You'll find there are millions of things in the patent office that nobody ever bought. With this thing, we were trying to figure out if anyone would want to buy it; see if it had any legs. Turned out, it has wings.

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Comments (26)

I'd never carry one

I prefer my S&W 686.

Well that’s the big thing

“Carrying” as we know it today is an avocational discipline, and a derringer (…never mind this thing) is deficient in the utility or functionality required of a weapon that’s carried.

The people getting the vapors over this would do well to understand that what’s being shown here is I think just a CAD, and its somewhat fantastical if not whimsical, really. There are formidable obstacles to it being produced given obvious functional deficiencies that make for a very limited market.

It’s a novelty. Cabela’s won’t carry this. Gander won’t carry this. etc.

Yeah, that was no big deal.

"The last time it was used as an attack weapon, I believe, was the assassination of Abraham Lincoln."

That was an inane point to make

And it’s wrong actually. Kjellberg’s phone gun is analogous to an understanding of “derringer” in that it conforms to a form set by the gambler’s Remington Model 95: small, cartridge firing, two shots.

Booth’s weapon preceded that kind of 'derringer'. It was a single shot percussion pistol, only comparable in that it was regarded as small vs alternatives of the time like say a Colt revolver (it’s not that small actually… but sure, Booth's 'derringer' did fit in a coat pocket).

Clarification

How will the gun know it's only a "defensive" weapon?

Are we giving people another reason to shoot in "self-defense?" ("Was that just a phone? I thought it could be a gun!")

This inventor was on the TV machine the other night. He said one advantage of his gun was that it could get around security checks. That seems like an odd selling point to make for a product that purports to be legal. In any event, why would we want that? While this gun might not make it past the ruthless efficiency of the TSA (not that anyone would try such a thing, no, no, no), it will easily get past the scrutiny of anyone who has made their own legal decision they do not want guns on their private property. Why would that be a good thing?

Inventor's position

Quote: "My position is, I've seen seen too many instances where someone with conceal-carry stopped murder or robbery and there's been little press about it."

I think the MinnPost audience would have been better served if Mr. Kimball had pressed him on this position.

Has the inventor really "seen" (literally or not) that many instances where a conceal-carry weapon stopped a murder?

By seen

He means he's seen it written up in the NRA's American Rifleman magazine. They print a monthly list of BS that pales in comparison the list of accidental shootings that kill children, mothers, fathers, wives, girlfriends and friends.

Lame!

Lame is how he trots out the arguments about responsible gun owners as some sort of protection against children planning with guns and killing themselves or others.

It is perhaps OK if the only child ever in your house is your own. Then if you are sloppy with guns (obviously a lot of gun owners don't secure their weapons),the death will mostly likely be a member of the gun owners family. But what kid doesn't have kids who come over to play? And a young child familiar with cell phones, but not with advanced gun desgn is put at risk.

Snce you are such a great designer, how about two more things features as standard equipment?. Rather than have it look like a cell phone, put the word GUN n large colorful letters on the outside, so anyone who sees it knows what it is and perhaps add a Mr. Yuck symbol to keep the kids away.

And especially to protect our children, how about designing a child proof storage case, so even if a kid gets it out of a drawer, they cannot use it. We do this for pill bottles - and why not guns? Children should not be dying because of the stupidity of adults. Of course, gun manufacturers cannot be sued for guns that lack childproofing features, but how about being responsible and not standing behind dubious legal protections?

As long as people are carrying concealed weapons for "self defense," if properly marked and stored, this is no more dangerous than any other gun. Of course, when using a concealed weapon kill President Lincoln, John Wilkes Booth was deluded into thinking iit was "self defense," and people's self defense arguments often don't make sense.

A defensive weapon becomes an offense weapon for any number of reasons relating to the crazy thinking of its operator. With the current level of self-induced craziness in our society, a blood bath can happen anytime and anywhere. Of course, committing mass murder with a two bullet gun is difficult, so perhaps, this is what everyone should carry, to limit the possible death toll.if people decide to take a life.

Ahem...

No generic anti-gun guy here...but, do we really need this thing?
.380 loads in a cell phone...hmm...pretty weird.

As one who rarely misses a chance at word play: "Snapshot" and "snap shot" given new meaning in both photo and pistol lingo.

Before we all go off half-cocked…

I’d like to take one more shot at what should be the greater wisdom here.

CEO Kjellberg may have earnest aspirations as a firearms designer, but this cell-phone gun does not exist. He’s disseminating for whatever publicity purposes a CAD image or a model done in plastic (these reporters he talks with should step back and ask him if he’s built and tested a working prototype…video of which ya figure would be available to press / potential investors / potential customers).

Not only does it not exist, this cell-phone gun has a near certain potential of never existing (it’s not a good enough product to bring into its intended market, it wouldn’t sell in amounts to make for a meaningful firearms mfg enterprise…. It would lose money…)

Just saying, there’s not a real reason to have a redundant concealed carry / gun argument over this, you don’t have to be trolled by it…

The goal of that gun

is deception. Therefore, it should be illegal. If you want/need to carry any weapon, it should be open carry.,,,,..not concealed.

But the goal for this

But the goal for this inventor is to create a gun that he can carry openly and not frighten children who see the gun in a restaurant and get all upset about the gun. Look at his comment about what made him think this up.

The awful thing here is that this guy seems to have no inkling of the dangers of a gun that looks like a cell phone.

Not to speak of his not understanding what upset that child and many adults: there was a man carrying a gun where common sense would say no one should carry a gun, concealed, disguised, or hidden.

The Goal

Isn't frightening people--specifically, bad guys--the whole point of open carry?

We tolerate children being shot in the name of the Second Amendment. I see no reason why we should balk at them being frightened.

No, We Do Not Tolerate

We may resign ourselves to social chaos on many fronts, but we do not tolerate the mass shooting of children by anyone, even the insane among us.

Well . . .

We don't "tolerate," in the sense that mass shootings do not go unpunished. However, as a people, we seem unmoved by the slaughter of children, or we are not sufficiently moved to make it more difficult to get the tools for that slaughter.

I do not consider "more guns" to be a reasonable response to school shootings.

Of course not...

Nor do we "seem unmoved by the slaughter of children." If it's not guns, then it would be bombs, whatever.

The well-diagnosed fault in these events has been (mostly) the undiagnosed or ignored mental health condition of the perpetrator. So, how about giving the Mayo Clinic's short-form MMPI to every 9th grader, along with other standardized testing? That would be a valid start to recognition and possible intervention...before the facts of these many cases.

I believe that to be a most reasonable response to such mayhem. We're not discussing everyday depression here, after all. Education may no longer be a matter of preparing the mind, but also, of repairing the mind.

Who else, where else, how else?

What else?

I have no argument with yo about the need for mental health screening. My concern is that the people found to be unstable, by whatever criteria, should not be allowed access to firearms.

Absolutely!

Yes, we very much need some doctrine of clear and present danger to prevail. I have known a number of provider administrators and clinicians in the mental health services community. All probably agree, with their own views of details, naturally.

There are countless

There are countless conventional, easily concealed handguns out there. Hundreds of rigs to carry them.

The only point of this one is to get through a cursory check for a weapon

Why stop here?

Obviously this is an idea whose time has come. Never mind that one definition of "kitsch" is "a functional object disguised as another functional object" (i.e., salt and pepper shakers shaped like light bulbs); this opens the way for such innovations as rat poison that looks exactly like M&Ms, a gun that looks exactly like a baby bottle, and a Barbie doll that flips open to reveal a switchblade knife. The possibilities are endless! Now you too can carry lethal weapons in family settings without being called out as a, well, you know, by some observant kid!

How true

Toys for boys (and girls, I suppose) who have not grown up, will never grow up.

The Peter Pan Principal of firearms?

We've been there, done that

Oldsters like myself will remember "Sixfinger," a toy artificial finger that was also a toy gun.

All we have to do is ratchet up the lethality, and we're in business.

Reservations

I see a significant disadvantage for self defense. If the need arises, you will remove this from your belt (or pocket or handbag), swing down the grip (a 2 handed operation), and point. Not likely ("Excuse me, would you mind waiting a moment while I get my gun ready"). You'd be safer with pepper spray.

Or, since it would be more cumbersome to deploy, you'll take it out sooner - in advance of a known threat. Now you're pointing a gun at someone who might now have a legal right to shoot you. Or sue you.

Finally, I was taught not to point a gun at something you don't want to shoot. As shown on the product website, the gun can be clipped to the belt horizontally, so it's pointing forward as opposed to toward the ground. I don't give a rat's you-know-what about the mechanics of the gun - don't point it at me.

I'm sure the novelty attracts interest, but that's a far cry from actually building one or selling one. And a CAD drawing is a long way from a working device.

Ahhh...common sense

This guy ain't got it.

how will police tell if it's a cell phone or a threat to them?

how is a law enforcement officer to tell the difference in a split second during crisis whether a cell phone or gun is held by someone they confront?

Threat test

If somebody aims their phone at you after being told to put their hands up, assume it's a weapon...