I ran across this story on Thursday and thought it was interesting enough to pass along.
Put yourself in Jeremy Bell’s shoes. You’re a creative director at Teehan+Lax, a Downtown Toronto design firm and a lifelong LEGO fan. You’re having a quiet Tuesday afternoon at the office. Hey, you just got a custom BrickGun model kit of a semi-auto handgun in the mail. Why not build it at your desk? (I for one totally understand, I just did the same thing last week with the Space Police Smash ‘n’ Grab.) After you’re done, you show the model to a co-worker, he breaks it, you put it back in its box, then unwind with some co-workers by playing video games.
The problem is, handguns are illegal in Canada, and gun play at work is generally associated with disgruntled employee rampages, rather than good LEGO design. So that afternoon, a person with a condo overlooking Jeremy’s window office saw him assembling the model, thought it was a real handgun and called the police. (He has since apologize via Twitter, Facebook and a handmade sign put up in his window.)
About an hour after putting away the model gun, the gaming was interrupted by yelling in the hallway. Jeremy peeked into the hall and saw members of the Toronto Police Emergency Task Force with real big guns pointed at him. He cooperated, got ‘cuffed, told them to check out the LEGO gun in his office, and he was uncuffed in about 90 seconds. Done, right?
It became a slightly bigger deal because people in and immediately around the building were detained, had big guns pointed at them, the street was closed off by half a dozen police cars, a couple ambulances waited nearby, and a helicopter hovered overhead. For details on the basic facts of the story, the best details and perspective are in Jeremy’s blog, but also check out some of the local Toronto online news outlets like GlobalToronto and Torontoist, where I first ran across the story.
Jeremy is now obviously being pestered by media all across Canada, and even by US LEGO nerds like me. He was gracious enough to answer a few questions:
The Brothers Brick: How do you feel about all this attention over a bizarre misunderstanding?
Jeremy Bell: I could do without the attention, but I do find the whole situation hilarious. Don’t get me wrong, guns in the workplace aren’t cool, and I’m aware that people have been killed over similar misunderstandings—luckily this event didn’t turnout the same.
TBB: What form has your LEGO fandom taken? Collector, builder, sets, your own creations, just looking?
JB: I’ve been a fan of Lego since I was a little kid, but it’s not something I spend a lot of time playing with now. That said, I’ll usually assemble actual kits and then combine the pieces with the rest of my collection and build my own creations.
TBB: Was the ordering of the custom gun kit a bit of lark? How did you find out about the kit? Was it any good?
JB: I discovered the BrickGun kit on a design blog (if I recall correctly), so ya… it was a bit of a lark. The kit had about 250 pieces in it, plus some elastic bands. Was it any good? Well, I got arrested… that’s gotta count for something I guess.
TBB: According to the other news stories, you’re the Creative Director at a design company? How has this affected your professional relationships, since this went down at work?
JB: Excellent question about the work side of things… no one has asked that yet. At the moment, all of our clients seem to think it’s pretty humours (although we haven’t heard from all of them yet). We’ll see how this shakes out next week.
TBB: How about your family?
JB: My family’s always known I was a Lego fan, so they weren’t surprised to see what I built. That said, my wife wasn’t so thrilled when she found out.
From looking at BrickGun’s website, they’re a little overwhelmed by the media driven orders because of this story, so if this gets you all excited to order something from them, good luck trying to get it in time for the holidays.