Lego has stepped in to Glock-block an unauthorized modification to a popular handgun, which made the deadly firearm look like a child’s toy built out of Lego’s iconic bricks.
The brightly coloured “BLOCK19” weapon mod was recently listed for sale online at Culper Precision, a Utah-based maker of custom firearm parts. Culper offered to modify customers’ existing Glock 19 pistols to make them compatible with Lego bricks at a cost of US$549 to $765, depending on the specifics.
Culper’s listing shows a modified Glock 19 pistol with a bright yellow handle, blue grip, red slider and several smaller components in yellow and green. Many of these pieces are lined with the raised bumps that Lego uses to connect its bricks.
The listing did not mention the trademarked Lego brand by name, but the images clearly showed various Lego pieces and how they might be attached to the gun. The description also includes several nods to the toy, including mentions of “KRAGLE,” a villain in The Lego Movie, as well as a passing reference to Denmark, where Lego is based.
“We built BLOCK19 because we have been building guns out of blocks for the last 30 years and wanted to flip the script and aggravate Mom,” the listing reads.
Culper also says the design is meant to highlight that handguns are “SUPER FUN! WE LOVE SHOOTING GUNS!”
Online users and anti-gun activists were quick to denounce the design as a bad joke last week, after images of it first started circulating on social media.
Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action, highlighted the gun as an irresponsible offering on Twitter, where she often points out the dangers of handguns that fall into children’s hands.
Many others joined the outcry and tagged Lego in their comments, prompting the company to take action last week.
Lego sent a cease-and-desist letter to Culper Precision, prompting its president, Brandon Scott, to pull the modification from the website.
Scott was unapologetic when describing the design to the Washington Post in a recent interview.
“There’s a lot of sports in the United States that are, in my opinion, a lot more dangerous than firearms,” Scott told the paper.
He cited motorcycles as an example, though U.S. federal statistics show that his opinion is at odds with the facts. A total of 5,014 motorcyclists died in fatal crashes in 2019, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation, whereas 39,707 people died because of firearms that same year, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Scott says the design is about exposing people to the “fun” of shooting, and that it plays to adults’ nostalgia, particularly for those who built “pretend guns” out of bricks as children.
He added that he keeps his own guns locked away from the three children in his home, and he expects that others do the same. A 2018 survey by Johns Hopkins University suggests that Scott is in the minority, as roughly 54 per cent of gun owners do not safely store all of their firearms at home.
Scott received Lego’s cease-and-desist letter during his interview with the Post, and he told the paper that he would comply with the demands, after adding that he’s sold fewer than 20 of the modifications. The gun has since been pulled from Culper Precision’s website.
In a new statement posted on its website, Culper says it’s “grateful” for the attention that it’s received with the BLOCK19.
“We built Block19 to create an opportunity to talk about the enjoyment of the shooting sports and the joy that can only be found in marksmanship practice and training,” it said. It goes on to say that it expects all gun owners to secure their firearms, and it is “irresponsible” for a “firearm of ANY colour” to be in reach of children.
“Guns are for EVERYONE,” the statement says, before framing the BLOCK19 as an attempt to be inclusive.
“It is our hope that firearms are able to double not only as ‘The Great Equalizer’ but also hopefully soon the great unifier,” Culper Precision writes.
Dozens of U.S. children die each year in accidents involving unsecured firearms. Last week, for example, a four-year-old died from a self-inflicted gunshot after finding a gun in a car in Colorado. In another case from last week, a three-year-old boy shot a woman with a gun that he found in a car in Louisiana.
Lego weapons have sparked concern in the past, including in 2018, when a California boy was arrested on terror charges after posting a photo of a Lego-made AR-15 rifle on social media.
Federal laws prohibit toymakers from producing replicas of firearms in the United States, but there is no law against producing a real firearm that looks like a toy.
— With files from The Associated Press