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State, federal law enforcement's new program to get mini-machinegun switch off the streets

State, federal law enforcement's new program to get mini-machinegun switch off the streets
State, federal law enforcement's new program to get mini-machinegun switch off the streets 02:17

NORTH TEXAS — The U.S. Attorney's office of North Texas says there's a concerning uptick of illegal switches being used on guns in Texas. 

The piece of plastic can be made by 3D machines and put on a legal handgun. The piece then holds down the trigger and allows the gun to fire dozens of rounds in seconds.

But on Monday, a new operation was launched called "Operation Texas Kill Switch," which aims to crack down on the illegal devices even more, with the help of North Texans.  

"Today, we're here to talk about a roughly one-inch piece of plastic. It looks innocuous enough like a Lego or it connects blocks. But this one-inch piece of plastic is killing people," said Northern District of Texas U.S. Attorney Leigha Simonton. "They can turn Second Amendment-protected firearms into illegal weapons of war and petty criminals into brutal killers."

CBS News I-Team's Brian New reported on the uptick in switches in the summer of 2023 and found a local case involving an illegal switch in May 2020, where a traffic stop in Arlington led to one of the area's first cases in a recent string of busts for possession of an illegal switch.

According to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, nearly 1,000 switches were recovered in Texas between 2017 and 2023. Half of those switches were confiscated just last year. 

ATF special agent Jared Lowe demonstrated shooting a regular gun versus a gun with a switch on it, showing how hard it is to shoot with a switch.

"The bullets do not always hit the intended target, and those are the things that worry us," Lowe said. "They can hit one of us, they can hit you, or any innocent bystander, so we need to make sure we can take these things off the streets."

U.S. attorneys across Texas, along with the ATF, say "Operation Texas Kill Switch" will give even more resources and education to law enforcement.

"I have been in this business for a long time, and nothing scares me more than the rapid flood of machine gun conversion devices on the streets of Texas and beyond. Rest assured that ATF and its partners are doing everything we can to stop the flow of these things and to prevent the carnage they can create. I applaud our United States Attorney partners for their willingness to aggressively prosecute these criminals and gangsters," stated ATF Dallas Field Division Special Agent in Charge Jeffrey C. Boshek II.

The operation runs now until the end of August.

Crime Stoppers will be giving cash rewards up to $5,000 for any anonymous tips on illegal switches. You can dial TIPS (8-4-7-7) to be connected to a local Crime Stoppers program. If you're in Dallas, you can call 1-877-373-TIPS (1-877-373-8477) to be connected to North Texas Crime Stoppers.

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