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Glock Switches On The Rise As Regulation Falters

Nearly a century after a federal crackdown on machine guns largely ended the use of automatic weapons by criminals, they are back on the rise thanks to Glock switches, an illegal modification that lets Glock-brand pistols fire continuously with one trigger pull. Glock switches are about the size of a thumbnail, easy to install, and typically sell for between $50 and $100, reports the Wall Street Journal. Authorities have struggled to regulate them as they have exploded in popularity because they can be manufactured cheaply and quickly on 3-D printers. Previously, most Glock switches were imported to the U.S. from other countries. “They’re easily made, they are non-traceable and the profit margin is so high,” said Jeff Boshe of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ Dallas field division.


A representative for Glock, maker of some of the bestselling handguns in the U.S., didn’t respond to requests for comment. Similar devices can make other pistols and AR-15-style rifles fire automatically, but those aren’t as commonly used in violent crimes. Their growing use means even as the number of shootings in major cities is falling after a pandemic-era spike, each shooting is becoming potentially deadlier. The problem is acute in Washington, D.C., where police say the growing number of Glock switches contributed to the city’s 274 homicides last year, the most since 1997. While the number of shootings was 9% above the average for the prior three years, the number resulting in death was 22% higher, said Police Chief Pamela Smith. Metropolitan Police Department officers recovered 195 Glock switches last year, up from 66 in 2021, Smith said. Nationwide, alerts for automatic gunfire last year rose 97% from 2021 across 127 jurisdictions with gunshot detection technology, according to SoundThinking, the company behind the technology.

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