Full-auto switches a growing problem

Full-auto switches a growing problem
Don Petersen

Full-auto switches, sometimes called “Glock switches” because they’re designed for that particular model of handgun, are an issue. They turn a semi-automatic handgun into a fully automatic firearm.

And they’re a growing problem.

A small and inexpensive device that converts an ordinary pistol into a dangerous and illegal machine gun is on the rise locally and is one of the biggest challenges facing law enforcement, Dallas’ top cop said.

Glock switches, quarter-sized converter devices that can snap onto Glock-style pistols, can shoot 35 rounds in five seconds, Dallas police Chief Eddie García said at a recent community meeting in northeast Dallas. He said police have seized 775 Glock switches so far in 2022, including some used in aggravated assaults in Dallas.

It wasn’t immediately clear how that compares with last year, but North Texas federal authorities and Fort Worth police also noted an apparent uptick in use of the converter devices this year.

Now, understand that this isn’t like the hysteria around unserialized firearms. With those, the people found with such guns would usually have had some other kind of gun anyway.

With these, though, it’s a little different. Most of the people found in possession of full-auto switches wouldn’t have just had some other kind of machine gun. That’s just not realistic.

Yet one of the big issues here is that, unlike unserialized firearms, it’s impossible for law-abiding citizens to match the firepower the bad guys can bring to bear.

If some thug with a “ghost gun” decides to shoot me for whatever reason, I have confidence that I can meet that level of aggression. My semi-automatic daily carry weapon is more than a match for that. While some carry revolvers, even there the discrepancy isn’t exactly massive.

But I can’t pull the trigger fast enough to meet the level of force laid down by a full-auto switch-enabled handgun.

The only upside is that these guys usually suck at hitting what they’re aiming at.

That doesn’t change the fact that federal law prevents us from being able to lawfully meet this particular threat with the most effective means to do so. We can’t crank out or own switches and put them on our guns. We can’t go to the gun store and jump through all the class 3 hoops and lawfully purchase one, either.

We’re effectively hamstrung by the laws in place.

Once again, only the law-abiding follow gun laws. The criminals will do whatever they want, regardless of the laws on the books. Full-auto switches are illegal as all get out, and yet, the bad guys keep getting them.

You can make the switch in about 45 minutes if you have “a little bit of knowledge” and a 3-D printer, which costs less than $200, García said. Once the switches are attached to a semi-automatic handgun, the weapon can be made fully automatic, the chief said. One pull of the trigger can spray dozens of rounds.

Authorities file federal charges against people found with the switches, but they also hope to go after manufacturers, García said. He said many switches come from overseas, which makes the problem “very, very difficult” to combat. Now, they’re increasingly made with 3-D printers — which make them more accessible.

Which just goes to prove that bans don’t actually stop bad guys from getting stuff they’re not supposed to have.

Meanwhile, we private citizens will need to learn how to deal with this particular threat that the law is simply incapable of stopping, much like all other threats we face.