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News4 Investigates: Growing number of ‘Glock switches’ confiscated in Tennessee


News4 Investigates found how a small device is giving pistols the power of machine guns. News4’s Jeremy Finley has more on this story.
Published: Apr. 18, 2022 at 7:49 AM CDT|Updated: Apr. 18, 2022 at 7:07 PM CDT
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WSMV) - Federal authorities said there’s a small, deadly and illegal gun modification growing in population nationwide, and it’s making its way to the Midstate.

It’s called an automatic, or “Glock” switch, and authorities said it gives a pistol the fire power of a machine gun.

“It can fire up to 1,200 rounds a minute,” Mickey French, ATF Special Agent in Charge for the Nashville Field Division, said.

French said the popularity of the Glock switch is growing.

“They tend to be what I’ll call creeping from the West Coast to the East. We’ve seen significant amount out in California, in Texas,” French said. “I’ve had a lot more recoveries in Memphis and we’re starting to see a lot more here in Middle Tennessee as well as East Tennessee.”

The ATF gave News4 Investigates an up-close look at the modifier in action. It took an unaltered semi-automatic Glock 19 a little under three seconds to fire 15 rounds. After adding the automatic switch, the same weapon fired the same number of rounds in about one second.

The ATF said the speed of the weapon also makes it extremely hard to control, and therefore, inaccurate.

“There’s a greater potential for persons to be injured or killed that are not intended targets of gun violence,” French said.

The ATF said 79 switches have been confiscated in Tennessee over the last five years. However, they believe many more could be out there as law enforcement agencies may not recognize the deadly component, especially if it’s not attached to the weapon.

“We continuously are in a training mode to teach not only the public, but also our law enforcement counterparts,” French said.

The AFT said possession of an automatic switch is a felony, even if it is not attached to a weapon.

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