ST. PAUL – Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton on Thursday came out strongly against soon-to-be-released double-barreled, .38-caliber handgun designed to look like a smartphone.
"I don't know how we can legislate thoroughly against human idiocy. It just boggles the mind that somebody would invent something like this and then there's a market for it," the Democratic-Farmer-Labor governor said Thursday.
Dayton said he would write to New York Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer, who plans to ask the federal government to investigate and potentially stop sales of the iPhone-resembling guns, about the subject.
"I think this requires a national prohibition," Dayton said. "This is about people's responsibility. The Second Amendment is a right, and with that comes a responsibility."
Kirk Kjellberg, the Monticello, Minn., creator of the cellphone handgun, said the criticism is unfair and unwarranted.
"This is something that people would carry to defend themselves if they're attacked," he noted. Other guns with an approximately square shape are already on the market, he said.
"If you're going to start banning stuff, you have to go further than mine. ... Mine is legal from a federal standpoint," he said. But, he added, "people fear what they do not understand. If they knew the concealed-carry market, they'd know my product is not a threat. There are more-powerful guns that can be concealed as easily or more easily than mine."
Kjellberg said he got the idea for the phone-like gun when he was in a restaurant last summer, his jacket caught on a handle, and a young boy spotted his weapon.
"He said, 'That guy has a gun,' really loud," he said. "The whole restaurant stopped for a second. Then everyone went about their business.
"I thought, 'There has to be a better way,' " he said. "Then I noticed a guy talking on his phone. My phone was sitting in front of me. I thought, 'That is something that will blend in.' "
He isn't properly licensed to manufacture such a weapon, though, so he connected with a friend at a Big Lake engineering company that has federal clearance for weapon design.
Kjellberg set up a Facebook page in December and launched his company's website in January. The site advertises the handgun at $395.
Much engineering work remains, he said, and a prototype will not be ready until June. Production isn't likely to start until October at the earliest.