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Federal and state agencies warn about the production and use of glock switches in Ohio

Zack Carreon

U.S. Attorney Kenneth Parker, alongside the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Homeland Security Investigations, and Cincinnati Police are warning the public about the growing use of glock switches in Ohio.

A glock switch is a small device that can be attached to a handgun to convert it into a fully automatic weapon.

In Cincinnati, there are currently three pending cases involving the use of the device with more cases throughout the state, according to Parker.

Although violent crime in Cincinnati is at an all-time low, Police Chief Teresa Theetge joined the agencies in raising the alarm about the attachment because of how easily it can be produced using a 3D printer and instructions online.

ATF special agent Daryl McCormick says originally, many of the devices were being manufactured in China, but the process of 3D printing has increased the number of glock switches being produced locally, which has led to more devices being discovered around the state.

"We're seeing them frequently in our cases, and local law enforcement has recovered them on everything from stops to crime scenes to search warrants," McCormick said. "We're seeing scenes littered with cartridge casing that's indicative of actual machine gun fire."

A handgun with a glock switch can shoot at a rate of about 10 to 15 rounds per second, according to McCormick. At that rate of fire, it can be hard to aim and control a firearm which has the potential to lead to more fatalities and increase the chances of bystanders being hit.

During a demonstration at the Great Oaks Firing Range, ATF special agent Nicholas Radebaugh showed the dramatic difference the attachment can have on a weapon by firing a regular handgun and then firing 31 rounds in about two seconds using a handgun with a glock switch.

glock switch demo final_1.mp4

Agent McCormick says due to an amendment to the National Fire Arms act in 1986, glock switches are illegal to produce, possess, and fire under federal law even if used on a legal handgun.

Due to their dangerous nature, U.S. Attorney Kenneth Parker says his office is committed to prosecuting every case where a perpetrator possesses a firearm with the device.

"If you have a gun with a switch, we will charge you with a federal crime. Self-defense will not be accepted as a reason to have one. Quite simply, there is no reason that a person can give to avoid prosecution," Parker says.

Possessing or manufacturing a glock switch has maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.

Zack Carreon is Education reporter for WVXU, covering local school districts and higher education in the Tri-State area.