Senator Schumer questions legality of folding gun that looks like iPhone

The bomb suit business is booming
The bomb suit business is booming

A folding gun that looks like an iPhone has Senator Charles Schumer up in arms.

"This iPhone gun is a disaster waiting to happen," said Schumer, who is calling for an intervention from the U.S. Department of Justice and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

"When placed in a person's pocket, the handgun looks almost identical to an iPhone case and, because it is essentially hidden, the handgun poses a serious threat if law enforcement is not able to tell whether a criminal is pulling out a gun or a phone," he said.

The palm-sized gun in question is designed by a Minnesota startup called Ideal Conceal. Inventor Kirk Kjellberg plans to have a working prototype of the two-shot derringer in June and to get it on the market by the middle of the year. The .380 caliber pistol would cost $395.

"Smartphones are everywhere, so your new pistol will easily blend in with today's environment," reads the web site of Ideal Conceal. "In its locked position it will be virtually undetectable because it hides in plain sight."

Gunmakers are not required to submit new guns to the ATF for approval. They can just release them into the market. But an ATF spokesman said they'll sometimes research new guns that are "borderline" to see if they should fall under more restrictive rules that apply to silencers and machine guns. The ATF would not comment specifically on Ideal Conceal.

"I welcome Senator Schumer's investigation as it will show Ideal Conceal pistol is firmly inside both ATF and [National Firearms Act] guidelines as to what constitutes a pistol and is therefore legal," Kjellberg told CNNMoney.

gun smartphone
Ideal Conceal is a pistol that folds into a rectangle that looks like an iPhone.

Related: Concealed carry gun looks like a smartphone

But Schumer said the "legality is dubious," noting that guns that look like wallets, pens and knives are illegal, so a gun that looks like an iPhone should be illegal. He also said guns are illegal if their X-ray images fail to reveal them as guns.

Kjellberg, who has a concealed carry permit, said he got the idea when a boy in a restaurant called him out for carrying a concealed gun that could be seen under his shirt.

"This little kid says, 'Mommy, Mommy, that man's got a gun,' so the whole restaurant looks at you like you're going to shoot the place up," he told CNNMoney last month. "So I thought to myself there's got to be another way to be able to carry without bothering other people."

Kjellberg said that when the gun is folded, it can be placed openly on a restaurant table without anyone knowing it's a gun. He also said it can't be fired when it's in the closed position.

Related: Cops hate this gun-shaped iPhone case

Bill Johnson, executive director and general counsel for the National Association of Police Organizations, recently told CNNMoney that any gun that can be disguised to look like something else "would be cause for concern."

Police have also expressed concerns about a iPhone case that's designed to look like a pistol.

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