Editor’s note • This article discusses suicide. If you or people you know are at risk of self-harm, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline provides 24-hour support at 1-800-273-8255.
Culper Precision, a Provo-based company that creates customized firearms, has come under criticism for offering customers a Glock handgun encased in Lego blocks.
According to a post on the company’s website, the custom firearm — nicknamed ‘Block19’ — was built 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.” However, the weapon’s similarity to a child’s toy has caused controversy online, and the webpage for the firearm has been taken down.
In a statement to CBSNews, the Lego company wrote that they contacted Culper Precision and that the custom-firearm company agreed to remove the product from its website and will not sell anything like it in the future.
Culper Precision’s original post states that the Block19 is intended to be a “fun safe queen,” which is the term for a gun that typically remains in a safe as a collectible.
“Rather than live in fear of the loud voices on social media we decided to release Block19 in an attempt to communicate that it is ok to own a gun and not wear tactical pants every day and that owning and shooting firearms responsibly is a really enjoyable activity,” the post states.
Utah gun sales broke records in 2020, and the company stated they were excited for first-time gun buyers to “seek out firearms education and marksmanship training.”
“We built Block19 to show all these new firearms owners that guns are not JUST for Law Enforcement and current or former Military, or the types that are prone to overt bravado that is so often portrayed on social media, guns are for EVERYONE, and we want to be the first to welcome new firearms owners from any personality type or political affiliation, if you own a firearm, you are our friend.”
Although the gun may look like a toy, any firearm can be lethal.
With millions of children out of school and the rise in gun sales across the country, “unintentional shooting deaths by children increased by nearly one-third comparing incidents in March to December of 2020 to the same months in 2019,” according to a report from Everytown for Gun Safety, a nationwide gun violence prevention organization.
A 2018 Harvard report stated most Utah deaths from firearms in the past 10 years were suicides. Lawmakers moved in the spring to curb gun suicides through increasing mental health resources and limiting firearm access for people in crisis.
Steve Eliason, R-Sandy, sponsored legislation to allow individuals in crisis to put themselves on a “no-gun” list that would prevent them from buying firearms for at least 30 days. He said he’d respect the right of someone to own the Block19, but would hope they understand the risks of the firearm if it wasn’t properly secured and children, or those with mental health concerns, were in the home.
“I don’t think there would be any connection between a gun that looks like Legos, and a child, somehow being influenced by how the firearm looked to take their life,” Eliason said. “The big issue that I wish I could shout with a megaphone across the entire state is that the gun regardless of how it works, whether it’s a long gun, a pistol, a collector gun, a hunting rifle — doesn’t matter.”
“The gun that somebody purchases to protect themselves and typically their family ... if somebody dies in their family from a firearm, statistically, it’s almost guaranteed to be that gun that takes their life.”
Culper Precision’s post stated that it has “long been the expectation of the firearm community that each of us as responsible owners of firearms take measures to secure our firearms from ANY unauthorized person,” and although they were “never in support of legislating personal responsibility,” the company reminded customers that failing to secure any firearm from those unauthorized to use it is “irresponsible.”
Eliason keeps a biometric safe with a fake gun inside for demonstrations to show people how quickly an owner can access a properly secured firearm. He hopes Utahns can take gun safety seriously, since no matter if it’s a lego gun or a law enforcement gun, the weapons are extremely lethal.
“The state gives out free trigger locks to people if they want one, we’ve given out hundreds of thousands of them,” Eliason said. “Trying to force people to lock up guns or taking guns away is not constitutional, and it’s not going to happen. So educating the public about the risks, in my opinion, and after having worked on this for over a decade, is by far the best thing we can do.”