Operation Texas Kill Switch kicks off in Southeast Texas

Published 12:12 am Wednesday, June 12, 2024

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United States Attorney Damien M. Diggs, along with partner agencies, announced this week a crackdown on machine gun-conversion devices.

Dubbed Operation Texas Kill Switch, the initiative aims at awareness and educating the public on the thimble-sized devices commonly made by a 3D printer using a plastic filament.

“It fires faster than the standard M4 machine guns issued to U.S. military service members,” Diggs said.

Under federal law, a machine gun conversion device is classified as a machine gun. Simply possessing one such device nicknamed “switch” carries up to 10 years in federal prison.

Diggs said there have been a dramatic number of switches in the streets between 2017 and 2023. Installation of a switch into a firearm takes less than 60 seconds.

Texas-based Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives has seize 991 switches, 480 of those, approximately 50 percent, were seized in the last year.

Switches have been used in multiple fatal shootings. Four were killed at a Sweet 16 birthday party in Ohio., a 16-year-old and a 36-year-old were killed by a 14-year-old who had a switch equipped firearm.

Then, on March 18, 2023 in Beaumont, a man was fatally shot by a handgun with a switch installed, and 27 rounds were fired.

And the list continues.

ATF Special Agent Domonic Rosamilia teaches law enforcement about the switch across the U.S. and parts of Mexico.

Rosamilia brought several handguns, some with the switch attached and some without it, to show how easy it is for the device to be placed on a firearm.

Rosamilia picked up a Glock and noted the switch has the “Glock” word on it. He said Glock does not create the switch, so if an officer were to see one, he would know it’s fake.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office and ATF are partnering with CrimeStoppers across the state to offer rewards for illegal switches and 3D printers being used to manufacture from now to until Aug 31.

“CrimeStoppers will offer up to $5,000 in cash to combat the proliferation of these devices. Ridding our streets and neighborhoods of machine gun conversion devices is one of the best tools we have to reduce gun violence,” Diggs said.

— Written by Mary Meaux