Minutiæ



Giving11.12

The Right to Wear Arms

by

Edward Pill­nus doesn’t look like an arms deal­er. He’s fifty-two years old, 5’6”, and a hun­dred and eighty pounds. He wears wire-rim glass­es when dri­ving and gets his hair cut once a week at the same bar­ber­shop he’s fre­quent­ed since 1992. That said, if you look at the num­bers, he’s one of the biggest gun-run­ners in the world and his prod­ucts are fired at crowds of inno­cent bystanders sev­er­al times a day. And the bystanders? They want it.

This is because Pill­nus is the CEO of Fun Time Ven­tures, the world’s largest man­u­fac­tur­er of the SL-73 pres­sur­ized air can­non, also known as the “t-shirt gun.” In sta­di­ums and sports are­nas across the globe, the SL-73 is used to pro­pel pro­mo­tion­al appar­el high into the packed stands.

“Peo­ple think we’re just t-shirt guns,” Pill­nus says as he walks me through the company’s head­quar­ters in Snel­lville, Geor­gia. “But we have our fin­gers in every aspect of the appar­el pro­jec­tion busi­ness.” He leads me to a place that Fun Time’s com­peti­tors would pay dear­ly to see for them­selves: the New Prod­ucts Lab.

First up is the Pants Sling­shot, which can fire a pair of trousers up to four hun­dred feet. “Slacks only though. No jeans. They’re too stiff,” explains Daniel Wak­ler, Fun Time’s lead design­er. “At least for now. We’re work­ing on some ideas.” Next is the Flip-Flop Pis­tol: hand­held revolver that comes with its own leather hip hol­ster. “This is a very excit­ing prod­uct,” Pill­nus tells me. “Unfor­tu­nate­ly, we can only shoot very small flip-flops with it. Basi­cal­ly, flip-flops the size of peanuts. Only babies wants those.”

After that, we come across the prod­uct that brought Fun Time a fair amount of trou­ble recent­ly: the Blaz­er Bazooka. The bazooka’s ammu­ni­tion is a “bul­let” of ten tight­ly wrapped, vac­u­um-sealed suit blaz­ers. When fired, the bul­let breaks apart, spray­ing its audi­ence with extra-large navy blaz­ers. Last August, Fun Town was in the press after a man in South Flori­da held up sev­er­al con­ve­nience stores using a pro­to­type Blaz­er Bazooka. The crime wave reached its zenith when the sus­pect fired the weapon at a store clerk at close range, instant­ly dress­ing him in a Burg­er Land-brand­ed sport coat and sev­er­ing his arms and legs from his tor­so. The bazooka has since been pulled from Fun Time’s web­site and is cur­rent­ly await­ing a “reimag­in­ing.”

And last­ly, there’s Pillnus’s pet project. The prod­uct he says will lead Fun Time into the next cen­tu­ry of appar­el pro­jec­tion. He calls it the “Der­by Drone.” “All of the research tells us the der­by hat, also known as a bowler, is going to make a huge come­back in the next cou­ple years, espe­cial­ly with inner city teens,” Pill­nus says. The drone is a remote-con­trolled fly­ing robot that will be able to make “sur­gi­cal strikes” of der­by hats across tens of thou­sands of spec­ta­tors at a time. He’s devel­op­ing the tech­nol­o­gy in con­junc­tion with the mil­i­tary research divi­sion of DRA Avion­ics.

“From my front row seat on the forty yard line, I’ll be able to pick out a fan any­where in the Geor­gia Dome, call in a strike to the drone com­mand cen­ter back at Fun Times HQ, and get a spe­cial Moe’s Bur­ri­to Can­ti­na-brand­ed pro­mo­tion­al der­by tac­ti­cal­ly deliv­ered to that fan’s head,” Pill­nus explains as he shows me the blue­prints in his office. “This is going to change the entire indus­try. My chil­dren will nev­er have to work a day in their lives,” he says with deter­mi­na­tion as he slams his fist on the wall.

Pill­nus gets misty-eyed when­ev­er his chil­dren come up. There is a pho­to on his desk of his eight year-old triplets, all hold­ing mini ver­sions of the clas­sic SL-73. “It’s all for them,” he says. “Any­way, let me show you a lit­tle some­thing we’re work­ing on called ”˜Watch-Palm.’ It’s basi­cal­ly napalm… but with watch­es.” ♦