Full-Auto Switch Problem Finally Given Some Context

Glock" by mynameisgeebs is marked with CC BY-NC 2.0 DEED.

I've written a lot about full-auto switches--so-called Glock switches, as some in the media put it--because many of them come from China and China likes to pretend that all of our gun problems are because we, as a nation, refuse to disarm our populace.


Probably so Uighurs won't be herded into camps.

But there has been on big issue regarding the coverage of these devices. Most of the reports have lacked any kind of context, thus replicating much of the "ghost gun" coverage we've long lamented.

However, the problem is apparently growing, and we're now getting an actual idea of just how much.

Communities around the U.S. have seen shootings carried out with weapons converted to fully automatic in recent years, fueled by a staggering increase in small pieces of metal or plastic made with a 3D printer or ordered online. Laws against machine guns date back to the bloody violence of Prohibition-era gangsters. But the proliferation of devices known by nicknames such as Glock switches, auto sears and chips has allowed people to transform legal semi-automatic weapons into even more dangerous guns, helping fuel gun violence, police and federal authorities said.

“Police officers are facing down fully automatic weapon fire in amounts that haven’t existed in this country since the days of Al Capone and the Tommy gun,” said Steve Dettelbach, director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, or ATF. “It’s a huge problem.”

The agency reported a 570% increase in the number of conversion devices collected by police departments between 2017 and 2021, the most recent data available.

Guns with conversion devices have been used in several mass shootings, including one that left four dead at a Sweet Sixteen party in Alabama last year and another that left six people dead at a bar district in Sacramento, California, in 2022. In Houston, police officer William Jeffrey died in 2021 after being shot with a converted gun while serving a warrant. In cities such as Indianapolis, police have seized them every week.

The devices that can convert legal semi-automatic weapons can be made on a 3D printer in about 35 minutes or ordered from overseas online for less than $30. They’re also quick to install.


Yes, yes, this all looks interesting, but also a lot like the rhetoric being pushed by the media in order to sell the public on the idea that homemade firearms were this massive issue.

But there's a difference.

We eventually learned some much-needed context on those guns that showed just how overblown the supposed concern actually was. Moreover, it's not like if those guns went away tomorrow, criminals would suddenly be disarmed. They'd just get different guns.

But here's what we know hard and fast about the growth of full-auto switched ending up in criminal hands.

Between 2012 and 2016, police departments in the U.S. found 814 conversion devices and sent them to the ATF. That number grew to more than 5,400 between 2017 and 2021, according to the agency’s most recent data.

Now, let's understand that 5,400 full-auto switches out of the tens of thousands of guns recovered by law enforcement each year--and that's over a several-year span--isn't the most terrifying thing in the world.

However, it is a sign of a significant increase of these devices in criminal hands, unlike the "ghost gun" hysteria.

Moreover, these are already illegal. There's almost no way a law-abiding citizen can have one of these things. That means more legislation isn't really needed since they're already banned.

The article does bring up that most states lack their own laws regarding these things, but I'm still not convinced that's needed. Not if the feds are doing their jobs and prosecuting people for breaking the National Firearms Act with these things.


Meanwhile, we law-abiding citizens are having to make do with semi-automatic firearms, at least until the anti-gunners figure out a way to ban even our semi-auto handguns, thus putting us at a distinct disadvantage against the bad guys who may well be sporting full-auto weapons.

If ever there was proof that gun control doesn't work, this is it.

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