WASHINGTON – By itself, a Glock 17 is legal. But, a simple device can suddenly make it more dangerous and illegal.
“So they’re actually referred to as machine gun conversion devices,” Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and Explosives technician Nick Campbell explained to CBS News at an ATF lab in Washington, D.C., “You see some of these are mass-produced, made of metal. . And then some of these are additive materials, 3D printed. And you’ll hear it referred to as a switch.”
The Conversion device Small and cheap. They cost as little as $20 but can fire 15 rounds in two seconds with a handgun conversion. And these modified weapons are becoming more common, officials said.
“We’re seeing them with regularity, about 50% more than last year,” said Metropolitan Police Department Cmdr. Lashe Makal, who previously ran the department’s gun recovery unit, but now oversees the Seventh District.
Makal said modified guns “increase the likelihood that we will encounter multiple victims when we use them. And also, in those single victim incidents, increase the likelihood that those incidents will be fatal.”
ATF has seen a 570% increase in confiscated modified weapons nationwide over the past five years. Last month, the Metropolitan Police seized a 3D printer used to make illegal weapons parts.
“I think we understand as a police department that, you know, this is a nationwide problem,” Makal said. “We realize we can’t block our way out of this. We need help.”
Metropolitan Police Chief Robert Conti, who The announcement was made on Wednesday That he is leaving the department to join the FBI, believes the justice ecosystem needs an overhaul so that illegal guns don’t do more harm.
“It’s something that’s on my mind every day, as we sit here,” Conti said of the nation’s mass shooting crisis. “You take a person with a firearm that’s capable of firing 100 rounds of ammunition very quickly in a short amount of time. It can happen anywhere at any time. And we’re seeing these … converter switches that are able to convert semi-automatic firearms to fully automatic. Firearms, they’re what keep me up at night.”