SLIDELL, La. — They are illegal, deadly, and federal agents are finding them on the streets of New Orleans and Jefferson Parish.
According to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, criminals are turning ordinary weapons into machine guns, by simply attaching a tiny switch to the gun.
The penny size device can turn a semi-automatic weapon into one that can fire at a rate of up to 1100 hundred bullets a minute with a single pull of the trigger.
Thursday, ATF Agent Tony Pierce demonstrated the machine gun conversion device, commonly known as a Glock switch at a gun range in Slidell.
“With the regular Glock setup, in semi-automatic, it’s much easier to control the shots because you have time to allow the weapon to cycle and you’re able to control your recoil,” Pierce said.
The weapon is harder to handle when it’s fully automatic, using the illegal switch.
“A lot of times on the street guys are shooting with one hand and to try and control this with just one hand would be nearly impossible,” Pierce said. “You’re going to have innocent bystanders in the background and the foreground who could also get hit by this.”
Agent Pierce fired off 17 rounds, first using an unaltered gun.
It took him about 8 seconds to unload the clip.
Then he used a gun with the switch installed.
This time he emptied the extended magazine in just over 2 seconds.
ATF Assistant Special Agent in Charge Tim Carroll says Glock switches have been found in the New Orleans area.
“They have been used in shootings both in New Orleans and throughout Louisiana,” Carroll said.
He did not identify which shootings involved the device.
According to the ATF machine gun conversion devices are hitting the streets in record numbers. In 2017, the ATF recovered fewer that 100 of these. Then, just last year that number jumped to more than 1500, nationwide.
“It’s getting into the hands of gang members and criminals who cannot possess firearms and they end up using them indiscriminately,” Carroll said.
Criminals are ordering Glock switches online or through social media.
Some are even making their own device using a 3D printer.
Just possessing the switch is a crime, that could send you to jail for up to 10 years.
Under the law, the gun would be considered “fully automatic” which is illegal.