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How a Glock Switch Turns Handguns Into Machine Guns

The FBI says glock switches are popping up more and more often at crime scenes. They’re small devices that transform semi-automatic handguns into what the law calls machine guns.

The devices look like a Lego piece and blend in with the gun making them hard for police to spot. 13 Investigates found out more about how they work and why it’s illegal to possess one.

How it works

The device is a small piece the size of a penny that fits on the back of a Glock pistol to turn it from a semi-automatic weapon to a full auto weapon. It disconnects the standard sear that stops a gun from firing more than one round each time you pull the trigger.

Police say they're finding these devices more frequently because they are cheap and easy to buy online or even 3D print at home. The switch is illegal to possess and even having one on a handgun makes you a federal criminal.

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) – A small, cheap device the size of a coin can turn a handgun into a dangerous machine gun that fires rounds over and over again. We went to a local range and saw how it works and why the switch is so dangerous.

ATF has been spotting the devices more and more on the streets. The bureau's regional special agent says there was a big spike in the number of switches found on guns last year and they're on the rise again this year.

It’s dangerous

Glock switch , which are used to turn semi-automatic handguns into what’s classified as a machine gun, make the weapons much more dangerous. They can fire hundreds of bullets in a few seconds, and that’s a huge risk for law enforcement officers and civilian bystanders.

Detectives say they’re seeing more and more of the devices, which are made to turn a Glock into an automatic weapon. It’s illegal to have one in your possession, and it can lead to a lot of prison time.

Police say people are getting the devices from overseas or from online vendors. They’re also making them at home on 3D printers.

ATF says it has seen a spike in the number of investigations involving these devices, which were already on the rise last year. It’s urging people to call a tip line if they think someone is selling or buying them. They also want to educate the public on what they look like so the devices can be taken off the streets.

It’s illegal

CHARLOTTE - A Glock handgun can only fire as quickly as its operator pulls the trigger. But a quarter-sized device can make it shoot much faster, like a machine gun you’d see in old action movies. It’s called a “glock switch,” and it’s becoming increasingly popular among criminals.

Federal prosecutors in the Western District of North Carolina have prosecuted several people who illegally sell or use switches. And they’re on the hunt for more. “People are just buying them off the Internet or they’re making them themselves,” says U.S. Attorney Dena King. “It’s very easy to do. You can find blueprints on line, and if you’re reasonably skilled with a Dremmel type grinder and simple hand files, you can make one of these.”

It’s also illegal to own such a device in the United States without going through the proper licensing or background checks. And if you do have one, the penalty can be 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

It’s easy to find

Glock switches allow handguns to fire multiple rounds each time the trigger is pulled. It’s a dangerous weapon that criminals have been using in the area and police want to stop it.

To legally own a switch, you must obtain the proper paperwork and licensing and pass background checks. Building a switch is illegal without the correct paperwork and could lead to serious legal penalties.

Police say they’re seeing more and more Glock switches at crime scenes. They’re also finding more and more people with them in their pockets and waistbands.

Police believe that’s because it’s easy to find and use. The devices can be purchased online and are shipped from overseas. It’s also possible to 3D print them at home with the right tools and blueprints. The FBI warns that anyone who owns a switch and uses it in a crime could face up to 10 years in prison. The FBI asks anyone who knows of someone making, selling or possessing a Glock switch to call their tip line.

-- Abdul Alim - 2023-11-07


Topic revision: r1 - 2023-11-07 - AbdulAlim
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