Lightning Gun for Sale

I’ve wanted a lightning gun ever since I played Quake for the first time back in 1996. Now, 10 years later, science has caught up with science fiction. I ran into Ionatron (Nasdaq: IOTN) while researching a story for Monday on one of its investors.

Lightning Gun

The company builds directed-energy weapons using a laser-induced plasma channel. That, as close as I can figure, is nerd-speak for lightning gun.

The company is selling its lightning gun to the government for use in clearing out roadside bombs and improvised explosive devices. Fox News has a report on it. And the company has some impressive looking pictures in this investor presentation. Most of the weapon’s implementations seem to require a truck full of charging devices, but the company’s site talks about its device replacing close-combat weapons such as guns. I couldn’t find any pictures of such on its site, but we did find a picture of what could be the gun on a blog.

The New York Post has written about Ionatron, saying its founder is a “twice-fined Wall Street stock promoter named Robert Howard, who agreed to pay $2.9 million in penalties in 1997 in settlement of a Securities and Exchange Commission suit charging him with making false and misleading statements about another company he founded and controlled, called Presstek, Inc.”

That’s particularly interesting to me, as I’m writing about an investor that held some $45 million of the company’s $350 million market capitalization at the end of the third quarter.