Machine guns the size of pistols. Should you be concerned about these new devices?

·2 min read

Federal authorities in Louisiana are warning the public of a new firearm attachment that enables a pistol to fire like a machine gun.

Commonly known as a Glock switch, the quarter-size attachment is added to pistols and allows the weapon to fully unload a magazine with one pull of the trigger.

The shooter only has to pull the trigger once for the weapon to fire hundreds of rounds, the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives says. This is a quick process — 30 rounds can be fired in 1-2 seconds.

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How does a Glock switch work?

A Glock switch allows a conventional semi-automatic Glock pistol to function as a fully automatic firearm.
A Glock switch allows a conventional semi-automatic Glock pistol to function as a fully automatic firearm.

Auto sears are the technical term for these attachments, which are created through metal and plastic thimble-size devices.

They have been around since the 1970s but have grown in popularity within recent years with the accessibility to the black market and 3D printers. The ATF says the materials are cheap and relatively easy to get your hands on. It's also easy to make the devices, and people are creating them inside their homes using 3D printers.

Once the devices are created, they can easily be installed in weapons with no use of tools. A person can just drop the auto sear in the back of the weapon.

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Why should you be concerned?

Tony Pierce, a special agent for the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives in Louisiana, demonstrates a Glock switch July 26, 2022. He gave the demonstration at the Shreveport Police Department training academy.
Tony Pierce, a special agent for the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives in Louisiana, demonstrates a Glock switch July 26, 2022. He gave the demonstration at the Shreveport Police Department training academy.

ATF says the main reason for concern with these devices are that they are extremely powerful and could hurt unintended targets. While in use, the powerful recoil can make the gun difficult to control.

"The firearm will rise and they will miss their target," the ATF says. "This is very dangerous in popular areas."

Makenzie Boucher is a reporter with the Shreveport Times. Contact her at mboucher@gannett.com.

This article originally appeared on Shreveport Times: Machine guns the size of pistols. What are these new devices?