NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives out of Nashville Field is concerned about a device that can quickly turn a handgun into a machine gun.
“I would describe this as dangerous,” Assistant Special Agent in Charge Tommy Estevan said.
It only takes seconds. The agency has tracked down a small device called a machine conversion device, better known as a “switch,” that can give a normal gun more power.
“It turns a semi-automatic firearm into essentially a machine gun,” Agent Estevan explained. “So, instead of a round being fired from a firearm with a single pull of the trigger, when the switch is installed on a firearm, you’re looking at 1,200 rounds with a single pull of the trigger within a minute.”
Assistant Special Agent Estavan explained that this type of device is being used more and more by criminals.
Halfway through the month of January, the Metropolitan Police have arrested six people, including teenagers, for possession of a prohibited weapon. Detectives say they found guns equipped with switches at each scene.
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“The amount of firepower in the hands of someone who intends to use it in a crime, it’s certainly troubling,” Agent Estavan said. “It concerns me not only for law enforcement safety, but also the public safety of our community.”
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 will tell you, from 2021-2022 we have seen a 40% increase within our jurisdiction here in Nashville, which includes the states of Tennessee and Alabama,” Agent Estavan explained.
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Law enforcement warns that the penalties for using one of these weapons increase significantly, even if the weapon is never fired, just having one can land you with serious charges.