Report on 'Glock Switches' Finally Provides Hard Numbers

AP Photo/Julie Jacobson

I’ve written a lot about so-called Glock switches, or full-auto switches as they probably should be called. After all, they’re not just for Glocks and Glock isn’t exactly selling them on street corners.


Whatever you opt to call them, what they are is pretty simple. They go on certain firearms and convert them from semi-automatics to full-auto.

Numerous reports have told us that they’re increasing in popularity all across the nation.

Earlier, I came across one more.

Criminals are turning handguns into machine guns and all it takes is $20 or a 3D printer.

These illegal handgun conversion devices are commonly referred to as “Glock switches” but they can be installed on many types of guns with devastating consequences. They are creating terrifying terrain for police and communities across America.

The concern is that they’re everywhere out there on the streets,” said ATF Acting Special Agent in Charge, Michael Weddell.

Weddell said it’s a terrible trend.

“We’re starting to see a huge increase,” said Weddell. “Criminal elements are using them against other criminal elements, but also our law enforcement partners.”

Of course, we’ve heard this all before. From “Glock switches” to “ghost guns,” we have ATF officials and the media going on about the growing threat and all that jazz.

We’ve seen it repeatedly.

The difference this time is that we’ve got some actual context.

In 2020, ATF told us they recovered more than 4,000 conversion devices.

In just one year, that number increased by nearly 50%, to almost 6,000.

And while the statistics for 2022 have not yet been released, ATF sources told us the disturbing and rapid upward climb of these devices will be reflected in the new numbers, due out sometime this fall.


Well that doesn’t sound great, now does it?

In 2020, the ATF ran over 404,500 crime gun trace requests. That increased to over 460,000 requests in 2021.

Now, that suggests that those 4,000 switches in 2020 represents just one percent of all crime guns. That moves to 1.3 percent in 2021. That’s not just an increase in numbers but in the percentage of guns used by criminals equipped with these devices.

While the ATF is apparently telling the media that the number of full-auto switches will be higher for 2022, there’s no indication if the total number of crime gun trace requests will increase over the previous year. Since violent crime rates were down in 2022, they might not, which would mean that the percentage of guns with full-auto switches will be even higher.

And even if the trace requests are higher, it really all depends on just how much of an increase of each we find.

Let’s all remember, though, that so-called Glock switches are already illegal at the federal level. There’s virtually no chance of any private citizen having such a device lawfully. You can’t ban them more than they already are.

So additional legislation isn’t going to make this go away.

Yet the laws in place do, however, put we law-abiding citizens at a disadvantage. We can’t match that kind of firepower. Sure, some people have spent the money for NFA goodies, including full-auto weapons, but they’re the exception and not the rule. Most of us only have semi-auto–and gun grabbers wonder why we’re loathe to give those up.


The bad guys, however, don’t care about gun laws. Most of the time, they’ll go to prison just for possessing the handgun in the first place, so what’s a few more years for having a full-auto? They’re not really worried.

Plus, as noted in the quote above, they can be made using a 3D printer. You’re not going to regulate those into oblivion. Not when people can DIY one.

So, we know these are being found in fairly significant numbers, and while most guns don’t have them, there’s a good chance any decent size city is going to have one or two running around in criminal hands. We also know that the laws that kneecap us don’t kneecap them.

Something to think about.

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