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Small but deadly: New device turns semi-automatic weapons into automatic, raises concerns for local police

Auto sear
Posted at 6:04 PM, Oct 05, 2022
and last updated 2022-10-06 09:34:00-04

CLEVELAND — Illegal, dangerous, and potentially deadly new devices have been found in recent crimes in Northeast Ohio. The device brings a new concern for local law enforcement and across the country.

“Commonly referred to as a Glock switch or an auto sear,” said Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms Special Agent Gerrod Briggs.

What the device does has law enforcement troubled.

“The amount of devastation that switch can allow that weapon to cause is incredible,” said Cleveland Police Deputy Chief Harold Pretel.

The auto-sear turns a semi-automatic gun into an automatic weapon.

During a demonstration by the ATF for News 5, one pull of the trigger fired off 30 rounds in 2.19 seconds.

Even for veteran law enforcement officers, that kind of firepower is hard to handle.

“This amount of firepower in a handgun is something that’s certainly very dangerous, very difficult to control,” said Pretel.

Just having an auto-sear is a federal offense.

“Just the switch by itself is considered a machine gun under federal law even if it’s not installed in a firearm. It’s illegal to possess and you could be charged,” said Briggs.

Police have seized the devices and believe they have played a role in recent violent crimes in Cleveland.

“We have seen evidence of these used in violence in our cities,” said Pretel.

Police said there has been an uptick in the number of them that they have seized.

Police said it’s easy for someone to get a hold of one of the devices and now there is another concern.

“Recently we’ve seen some 3D printer versions of these,” said Briggs.

They are stressing no matter how someone gets one, it’s illegal and could send a person to federal prison for 10 years.

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