What’s With All the Clamor About So-Called “Glock Switches”

posted on May 23, 2024
New York State Sen. Zellnor Myrie
Hans Pennink/AP

There is a proposed bill that would effectively ban the sale of Glock pistols in New York.

The bill, introduced in the New York State Legislature by Sen. Zellnor Myrie (D), would ban sale of all pistols that, while manufactured as semi-automatic, can possibly be illegally converted to fire full-auto. While the legislation doesn’t specifically mention Glock, Myrie has confirmed that he wrote the legislation specifically to ban Glocks.

At issue is the so-called “Glock switch,” a piece of metal or plastic that can be used to illegally convert Glock pistols to fire full-auto, as opposed to the normal, as-manufactured-and-sold semi-auto function of the popular handguns. In a nutshell, a “Glock switch,” or “Glock auto-sear,” is a small piece of metal or plastic that someone could make and illegally attach to the rear of the slide of a Glock to convert it to full-auto fire. The switch works by applying force to the trigger bar to prevent it from limiting fire to one round of ammunition per trigger pull. 

The name is intentionally misleading, since Glock doesn’t make the switches; also, converting any firearm to fire full-auto is a federal felony, and even possession of a “Glock switch” could land you in federal prison for 10 years.

Not surprisingly, however, gun-control advocates want to ban the gun instead of arresting, prosecuting, and incarcerating those breaking the law. That is like banning Ford F-450s because some owners delete the diesel emission fluid system on the trucks in violation of federal law.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) says criminals converting handguns to fire full-auto has become a growing problem. In fact, according to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), from 2017 to 2021, over 5,000 machine gun conversion devices were recovered in the U.S., a large increase from the 814 recovered between 2012 and 2016.

That said, using a “Glock switch” to make a gun fire full-auto is already against the law, as previously mentioned. And the proposed “remedy” of outlawing the pistols altogether isn’t the appropriate way to get the devices off the street.

Tom King, president of the New York State Rifle & Pistol Association (NYSRPA), sees the legislation as just another misguided attempt by gun-control advocates to blame an inanimate object rather than violent criminals.

“This is another case of passing a law that’s not going to have any effect on anything,” said King in an exclusive interview with America’s 1st Freedom. “It’s not going to control any of the crime problems on the street. It’s a stop-gap measure by the legislature to make it appear as if they’re doing something to control crime, which they’re not.

“It would also have a devastating effect on lawful citizens because they wouldn’t have access to those guns anymore.”

King said that what is not included in the legislation might actually be more dangerous than the provisions within the measure.

“The thing that bothers me most is that there’s nothing in there that really grandfathers the guns that have already been sold,” he said. “That law is going to make it possible for lawmakers sometime a little bit later to say, ‘All of the Glocks that have been sold over the past 40 years have to be retrofitted so that they can’t become fully automatic or we’re going to confiscate them.’ People might say, ‘Well, that will never happen.’ But look what happened with ‘assault’ weapons.”

The true irony of the matter is that New York politicians are targeting a major gun manufacturer to ban the sale of products because violent criminals, most of whom are already banned by federal law from possessing firearms, might illegally acquire the handguns and then illegally alter them to shoot differently; in fact, simple logic dictates that there is an incredible disconnect between Glock legally making and lawfully selling its products and criminals using an already illegal part to commit more criminal acts.

Fact is, the gang members using full-auto-converted Glocks to shoot at rival gangs on the streets of Chicago and other big cities are already committing multiple serious felonies.

The New York legislation comes on the heels of the city of Chicago filing a lawsuit against Glock in March, claiming the company refuses to redesign its pistols—a design that is 40-year-old proven technology–to make them harder to convert. Like New York politicians, Chicago leaders are more intent on burdening manufacturers than actually tracking down, arresting and prosecuting the criminals committing serious felonies.

“Selling firearms that can so easily be converted into automatic weapons makes heinous acts even more deadly, so we are doing everything we can in collaboration with others committed to ending gun violence to hold Glock accountable for putting profits over public safety,” said Mayor Brandon Johnson (D) said in a statement after the lawsuit was announced.

Meanwhile, lawmakers in other states are considering legislation or enacting laws to ban “Glock switches” in those states. That certainly makes more sense than banning Glocks, as the New York proposal would. But, since possession and use of the devices are already federal felonies, perhaps a better solution would be to simply prosecute those violent criminals who violate the federal laws already on the books.


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