NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives out of the Nashville Field is concerned about a device that can quickly turn a handgun into a machine gun.
“I would describe this as dangerous,” said Assistant Special Agent in Charge, Tommy Estevan.
It takes just seconds. The agency has been tracking a small device called a machine conversion device, better known as a “switch,” that can give a normal pistol more power.
“It turns a semi-automatic firearm into, essentially, a machine gun,” explained Agent Estevan. “So, instead of one round being discharged from a firearm with the single pull of the trigger, when the switch is installed onto a firearm, you’re looking at 1,200 rounds with the single pull of the trigger within a minute.”
Assistant Special Agent Estavan explained this type of device is being used more and more by criminals.
Halfway through the month of January, Metro police have arrested six people, including teenagers, for possession of a prohibited weapon. Detectives say, at each scene, they found pistols equipped with switches.
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“The amount of firepower in the hands of a person who intends to use it in a crime is definitely concerning,” Agent Estavan said. “It’s concerning to me not just for law enforcement safety, but public safety within our community as well.”
The ATF has investigated up to 112 cases in the last 2 years, specifically focused on switches.
“It used to be an anomaly, these switches were seen on the west coast, but today we are seeing more and more of these. I’ll tell you, from 2021-2022, we have seen an increase of 40% within our jurisdiction here in Nashville, which includes the states of Tennessee and Alabama,” explained Agent Estavan.
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Law enforcement warns the penalties for using one of these weapons goes up significantly, even if the weapon is never fired, simply having one can land you with serious charges.